Automated 3D Cell-Based Assays in Animal-Free Nanofibrillar Cellulose Hydrogels for High-Throughput Screening Analyses

Jonathan Sheard¹, Steven Worrall¹, Essi M. Niem¹ & Piia Mikkonen¹
¹ UPM Biomedicals, Helsinki, Finland

GrowDex®, GrowDex®-T and GrowDex®-A are birch-based nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC) hydrogels for
3D cell culture. Besides NFC they contain only purified water. GrowDex hydrogels do not contain any
animal or human-derived material.


GrowDex hydrogels support cell growth in 3D by physically resembling extracellular matrix (ECM)
biocompatible with human cells and tissues. The structure and mechanical properties can be tuned
to fulfill the requirements of different cell types (Fig.1) and the hydrogels allow free diffusion of
nutrients and oxygen. GrowDex can be degraded to soluble glucose by cellulase enzyme while
retaining the 3D structure of cells.


GrowDex hydrogels have excellent shear thinning properties and temperature stability, with a
possibility to tune the stiffness to apply them in multitude of applications, including automated 3D
cell-based high-throughput (HTS) and high content screening (HCS) assays such as drug discovery
and development.

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