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Welcome to the Hydrogel Core

Despite its many advantages, a major limitation of traditional cell culture is the reliance on rigid (plastic or glass) surfaces that fail to model the elastic microenvironments almost all cell types inhabit in vivo. This limitation is a source of both false positive and negative results, a problem that becomes particularly acute as biomedical research becomes more reliant on genome-wide approaches with significant cost. The ITMAT Program in Translational Biomechanics is therefore launching a new core service to provide custom-designed ECM-coated acrylamide hydrogels that can model the elastic microenvironment of most cell types. Cell cultured on hydrogel substrata are amenable to almost all modern cell and molecular analyses. Continuous cell lines and primary cells are readily accommodated. The elasticity of these substrata can be varied to model changes in microenvironment stiffness that might occur with development, differentiation, or disease.

To promote the use of this technology, the HYDROGEL CORE will offer the following services FREE OF CHARGE on a 6-month trial basis. Faculty from Penn, ITMAT partner institutions, and members of the ITMAT Program in Translational Biomechanics are eligible.

1) One-on-one consultation about the advantages and limitations of hydrogel substrata
2) Custom-design ECM-coated hydrogels (matched to the needs of the individual research programs) suitable for two pilot experiments
3) Hands-on guidance regarding methods for subsequent cell lysis and molecular/cellular analysis
4) Hands-on training in the preparation of acrylamide-based hydrogels if you decide that your pilot data are worth pursuing
5) Ongoing technical advice

Depending on demand, longer-term hydrogel preparation may be considered on a fee-for service basis.

For more information about hydrogel substrata or to schedule a consultation, please contact:
Rick Assoian, Ph.D.,
Director, ITMAT Program in Translational Biomechanics
assoian@mail.med.upenn.edu

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