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Using no-frills paper to create inexpensive 3D cell culture

Paper-based culture developed by Wyss researchers can be used to diagnose diseases in resource-limited environment

A new video provides a compelling demonstration of how a novel paper-based system for culturing mammalian and bacteria cells can be used to diagnose biomarkers in diseases such as malaria, TB, and HIV. This simple tool could serve as a platform for cell culture in environments around the world where resources are limited.

The two-minute video features Ratmir Derda, who pioneered paper-culture as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute when he was working in the labs of faculty member George Whitesides and Founding Director Donald Ingber (see press release). Derda is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta.

Paper absorbs, measures, and transports liquids without the need of a power supply. Cells grow in paper just as they do in a culture dish, and paper-based tests that use bacteriophage instead of antibodies can diagnose diseases on site.

The video is a part of Derda’s proposal for the Canadian Rising Stars in Global Health award, which serves as a call to action for young Canadian scientists to develop solutions to the most difficult global health challenges by integrating scientific, social, and business innovations. The initiative is sponsored by Grand Challenges Canada, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and well-being of people in developing countries.

Derda’s collaborators includes the Whitesides Lab at the Wyss Institute, the lab of Emanuel Carrilho at the University of Sao Paulo, and a team of researchers from the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya.

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