Printing protein cells: IIT-Bombay researchers find cost-effective way

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Published on Dec 27, 2019 12:01 AM IST
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By Priyanka Sahoo, Mumbai

Researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), have created a new and cost-effective method of producing stamps that can print patterns of proteins. The technology can help doctors understand the growth and behaviour of cells, particularly during a disease.

“Our technology will have applications in the fields of diagnostics, and understanding of basic biology,” said Abhijit Majumder, associate professor at IIT-B and lead author of the study. Majumder explained, protein is printed on surfaces of glass or plastic using stamps. This method is called microcontact printing. This printing is done to study the growth and behaviour of adherent cells — a group of cells that grow on a surface. These adherent cells can help repair damaged skin, cartilage or retina. “The information gathered from these studies can help us develop therapies against disease-causing cells,” Majumder added. Conventional methods of microcontact printing can cost around 1,500 a piece. On the contrary, the new method can print protein patterns at 350 a piece.

Since two types of stamps were made by the researchers using readily available material, the team was able to bring down the costs significantly. They used these stamps to create protein patterns on a flat surface and grew mouse cells on these patterns. “Creating stamps with curved surfaces is quite challenging in conventional lithography. Importing expensive lab equipment could be a significant hurdle to doing research. Hence, developing affordable, homegrown technologies, as proposed in the current study, can ease the burden,” said Akshada Khadpekar, a research scholar at IIT-B and the first author of this study, which was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports. The study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Centre’s department of biotechnology.

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