From increased automation capabilities to simplified workflows, animal-free 3D culture matrices can provide value in more ways than you might realize.

Matrices provide a scaffold for 3D culture environment for versatile cell models. Hydrogels support a versatile range of 3D culture applications and are one of the most popular matrix materials, but beware – not all hydrogels are created equal

Many commercially available hydrogels are animal-derived — and aside from the ethical implications — animal-derived hydrogels can cause significant unintended experimental effects. This is due to batch-to-batch variability that results from the presence of animal-derived proteins and growth factors, and their ill-defined composition.

These complications significantly limit the reliability of animal-derived hydrogels for 3D cell culture-based screening applications. What’s more, biological safety concerns make animal-derived hydrogels unsuitable for use in the development of therapeutics including regenerative medicine or cell and gene therapies.


Time to go animal-free?

Animal-derived hydrogels come with numerous complications and variables for 3D cell culture. These complications create uncertainty in the viability and behavior of your cells - and in your downstream analysis and results. 

By choosing GrowDex® hydrogels, you eliminate all contaminating factors from your culture and batch-to-batch variability - making your 3D cell assays as reproducible as possible. 

And of course, they’re totally free from ethical implications too. 

What’s stopping you?


Download our guide to learn how to transfer from animal-derived matrices to GrowDex.


Improve consistency in your 3D cell assays with GrowDex® hydrogels 


With pure constituent materials of nanofibrillar cellulose (NFC) and water, wood-based GrowDex hydrogels offer an ethical and sustainable alternative to animal-based hydrogels. Negating all of the complications that arise from animal-derived hydrogels, GrowDex produces consistent 3D cell cultures every time to give you confidence in your assay results in downstream applications.


Our proprietary NFC is manufactured according to ISO 13485 Medical Device Quality Management system and the biological safety has been evaluated according to ISO 10993 - biological evaluation of medical devices: genotoxicity and cytotoxicity. This makes GrowDex suitable for the development of clinical therapeutics.


More reasons to adopt animal-free hydrogels

By adopting GrowDex in your 3D cell culture setup, you can benefit from an animal-free hydrogel optimized for high throughput screening (HTS) and high content screening (HCS) applications. Aside from eliminating animal proteins and growth factors from your culture, GrowDex also brings a host of additional benefits to screening applications, including:


Automated liquid handling at room temperature 

Animal-derived hydrogels are temperature-sensitive, adding a great deal of complexity to screening assay workflows and limiting their compatibility with automated liquid handling systems. GrowDex hydrogels are not temperature sensitive, allowing for streamlined workflows and accurate dispensing at room temperature.

Streamlined imaging and detection

Animal-based hydrogels have been shown to produce autofluorescence, which may skew fluorescence imaging and related data. GrowDex does not cause any autofluorescence, enabling uninterrupted fluorescence imaging so you can be confident in your results.


Unrestricted drug diffusion 

Animal-based materials contain extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins that can interfere with the diffusion of molecules which is critical for drug screening. GrowDex hydrogels allow molecules to diffuse with ease, creating a more reliable platform for pharmacological studies.

Simplified downstream processing 

Recovering cells and isolating DNA/RNA for downstream analysis can be problematic with animal-based hydrogels, as the animal proteins can interfere with DNA isolation, labelling and detection. By employing GrowDase™ cellulase enzyme, you can swiftly recover your cells from GrowDex hydrogels. GrowDase degrades only cellulose fibers and does not affect cell proteins, structure or viability.


Save time and money!

In addition to the complex workflow and myriad reliability issues, animal-derived hydrogels also have a significant impact on the total cost and time of running screening assays. With the lower reagent dead volumes, cheaper price and faster plate preparation, GrowDex hydrogels make 3D culture assays easier, less labor-intensive and less expensive.


A versatile hydrogel for scaffold-based organoid and spheroid cultures

GrowDex animal-free hydrogels are highly versatile and can be customized to suit the needs of your 3D cell culture application. With more than 150 optimized protocols for different cell types, GrowDex can be utilised in the culture of patient derived primary cells, stem cells and cells lines. 


GrowDex is the ideal solution for 3D culture and downstream screening applications: 

  • Standardized, quality-controlled lots enable consistent cell behavior and differentiation in repeat assays
  • Easy preparation – just dilute and mix, no crosslinking required
  • Room temperature handling simplifies your screening workflow, negating the need for fine temperature control or instrument cooldown
  • Compatible with automated dispensing systems due to ease of handling and shear thinning properties of the material, enabling rapid and accurate dispensing
  • Simplified imaging and detection - contains only NFC and ultrapure water with no autofluorescence
  • Simplified cell retrieval – GrowDex can be easily degraded with GrowDase enzyme for easy cell retrieval for downstream analysis