Engineering Functional Groups into Electrospun Nanofibers for Cell Culture




Cell culturing is the process of growing cells in an artificial environment under controlled conditions in an effort to cause the cells to behave as they would in vivo. This is difficult to achieve because, in addition to the conditions such as temperature, pH, and gas concentrations, nutrients and energy requirements must be supplied in cell culture media. Additionally, for some studies, substrate materials are required for cellular adhesion to enable proliferation of cells to form tissues, and growth factors are needed to promote growth and differentiation of cells. Although there have been many advances in cell culture to make cells and therapeutic agents behave similarly in vitro and in vivo, there remains a need to more closely mimic the native environments of cells to reduce variation in the results obtained when studying cells in vitro.


Description of Technology


MSU’s invention provides nanofibrillar structures with functional groups that enable proliferation and/or differentiation of cells in cell culture. Ultimately, the system enables a three-dimensional matrix of nylon fibers with functional groups that closely resemble the extracellular matrix that cells encounter in vivo during growth and differentiation. The incorporation of these nanostructures into cell culture containers provide in vivo-like cell conditions, which should lead to in vivo-like responses from cells in cell culture.


Key Benefits

  • Less costly and simplified method: The manufacturing process involves treating electrospun nanofibers with polymers to facilitate proliferation and differentiation. It is relatively simple and enables a finished product that can compete on cost, if desired.
  • Extended shelf-life of incorporated growth factors: Growth factors incorporated onto the surfaces of the nanofibers exhibit significantly longer shelf life in vitro and, when refrigerated, unincorporated growth factors.
  • Customizable: The nanofibers can be treated with a wide range of functional polymers, which enables the system to be used for a variety of cell culture experiments.




This MSU invention is useful for creating cell culture environments that more closely resemble in vivo-like conditions and in vivo-like results in cell culture studies where differentiation is important. The invention can be used to make assays or kits for cell culture experiments designed for studying tumor microenvironments.


Patent Status


US Patent 7,704,740 (Issue date: April 27, 2010)




Melvin Schindler, Hoo Chung


Tech ID




Patent Information: