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Research into stem cells is a growing field of contemporary biology due to their extraordinary potential to develop into myriad cell types for use in regenerative medicine and research applications. Stem cells can vary from adult stem cells, embryonic stem cells, or induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS. Due to the high potential for therapeutic applications, or individualized medicine, there is an increasing demand for stem cell quantities since a critical cell count must be met to demonstrate any therapeutic effect. The problem lies in the amount of time it takes to culture this critical cell count. Isolating fibroblasts in vitro and generating a high number of cells requires around a few weeks timeframe. Since this field requires urgency, we propose to develop acceleration via a specific substrate composition.

There are many existing substrate/culture systems departing from the traditional 2-dimensional polystyrene tissue cultures, such as hydrogel, fiber, and nanoparticle based suspension systems, each with its own advantages and disadvantages which were explored to determine the ideal system for scalable proliferation.

We will be using neural stem cells, a model type, because the neuron is a static cell type. These neural stem cells can generate neurons or glial cells. Our objective is to increase neurogenesis, not glial cells, as glial cells are associated with inhibitory and inflammatory pathways and the body has sufficient mechanisms for proliferation of glial cells.

Over the course of the semester, we succeeded in completing team and individualized laboratory technique trainings in bead preparation, fabrication, and neural stem cell culture. We completed a team¬based comprehensive literature overview per our advisor’s specifications. We used this information to guide our final decision to pursue a polystyrene based particle microcarrier 3-dimensional culture system. The design and construction of a novel mechanism by which a piezoelectric system may utilize sinusoidal waveforms to create homogeneous polystyrene beads was facilitated by a post¬doc working under our advisor.

In order to be clinically relevant, our process must be simple and replicable, with cells that easily attach and detach, while still ensuring our system will be compatible with subsequent manipulation. Ideally, we will produce a retrievable cell culture system which does not compromise cell viability or differentiable properties.

Publication Date



biomedical engineering, neural stem cells


Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Ning Zhang

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

July 2015

3-D Culture SystemFor Rapid Expansion of Human Neural Stem Cells