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  1. Soon CF, Tee KS, Youseffi M, Denyer MC
    Biosensors (Basel), 2015 Mar;5(1):13-24.
    PMID: 25808839 DOI: 10.3390/bios5010013
    Cell migration is a key contributor to wound repair. This study presents findings indicating that the liquid crystal based cell traction force transducer (LCTFT) system can be used in conjunction with a bespoke cell traction force mapping (CTFM) software to monitor cell/surface traction forces from quiescent state in real time. In this study, time-lapse photo microscopy allowed cell induced deformations in liquid crystal coated substrates to be monitored and analyzed. The results indicated that the system could be used to monitor the generation of cell/surface forces in an initially quiescent cell, as it migrated over the culture substrate, via multiple points of contact between the cell and the surface. Future application of this system is the real-time assaying of the pharmacological effects of cytokines on the mechanics of cell migration.
  2. Wong SC, Soon CF, Leong WY, Tee KS
    J Microencapsul, 2016 Mar;33(2):162-71.
    PMID: 26878098 DOI: 10.3109/02652048.2016.1142017
    Microbeads have wide applications in biomedical engineering field that include drug delivery, encapsulation of biomolecules, tissue padding and tissue regeneration. In this paper, we report a simple, yet efficient, flicking technique to produce microcapsules of calcium alginate at a narrow distribution of size. The system consists of an infusion pump and a customised flicker that taps the syringe needle for dispersing microcapsules of sodium alginate that polymerised in the calcium chloride solution. The flow rate of the syringe pump and the velocity of the flicker were studied to achieve a well controlled and tunable size distribution of microbeads ranging from 200 to 400 μm. At a flow rate of 4 μl/min and flicking rate of 80 rpm, a narrow size distribution of microbeads were produced. Via this technique, HaCaT cells were encapsulated in calcium alginate microbeads that grown into microtissues with a size ranging from 100 to 300 μm after two weeks of culture. These microtissues could be potentially useful for pharmacological application.
  3. Leong WY, Soon CF, Wong SC, Tee KS, Cheong SC, Gan SH, et al.
    Bioengineering (Basel), 2017 May 14;4(2).
    PMID: 28952522 DOI: 10.3390/bioengineering4020043
    Cells encapsulation is a micro-technology widely applied in cell and tissue research, tissue transplantation, and regenerative medicine. In this paper, we proposed a growth of microtissue model for the human keratinocytes (HaCaT) cell line and an oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) cell line (ORL-48) based on a simple aerosol microencapsulation technique. At an extrusion rate of 20 μL/min and air flow rate of 0.3 L/min programmed in the aerosol system, HaCaT and ORL-48 cells in alginate microcapsules were encapsulated in microcapsules with a diameter ranging from 200 to 300 μm. Both cell lines were successfully grown into microtissues in the microcapsules of alginate within 16 days of culture. The microtissues were characterized by using a live/dead cell viability assay, field emission-scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), fluorescence staining, and cell re-plating experiments. The microtissues of both cell types were viable after being extracted from the alginate membrane using alginate lyase. However, the microtissues of HaCaT and ORL-48 demonstrated differences in both nucleus size and morphology. The microtissues with re-associated cells in spheroids are potentially useful as a cell model for pharmacological studies.
  4. Zamhuri A, Lim GP, Ma NL, Tee KS, Soon CF
    Biomed Eng Online, 2021 Apr 01;20(1):33.
    PMID: 33794899 DOI: 10.1186/s12938-021-00873-9
    MXene is a recently emerged multifaceted two-dimensional (2D) material that is made up of surface-modified carbide, providing its flexibility and variable composition. They consist of layers of early transition metals (M), interleaved with n layers of carbon or nitrogen (denoted as X) and terminated with surface functional groups (denoted as Tx/Tz) with a general formula of Mn+1XnTx, where n = 1-3. In general, MXenes possess an exclusive combination of properties, which include, high electrical conductivity, good mechanical stability, and excellent optical properties. MXenes also exhibit good biological properties, with high surface area for drug loading/delivery, good hydrophilicity for biocompatibility, and other electronic-related properties for computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Due to the attractive physicochemical and biocompatibility properties, the novel 2D materials have enticed an uprising research interest for application in biomedicine and biotechnology. Although some potential applications of MXenes in biomedicine have been explored recently, the types of MXene applied in the perspective of biomedical engineering and biomedicine are limited to a few, titanium carbide and tantalum carbide families of MXenes. This review paper aims to provide an overview of the structural organization of MXenes, different top-down and bottom-up approaches for synthesis of MXenes, whether they are fluorine-based or fluorine-free etching methods to produce biocompatible MXenes. MXenes can be further modified to enhance the biodegradability and reduce the cytotoxicity of the material for biosensing, cancer theranostics, drug delivery and bio-imaging applications. The antimicrobial activity of MXene and the mechanism of MXenes in damaging the cell membrane were also discussed. Some challenges for in vivo applications, pitfalls, and future outlooks for the deployment of MXene in biomedical devices were demystified. Overall, this review puts into perspective the current advancements and prospects of MXenes in realizing this 2D nanomaterial as a versatile biological tool.
  5. Lim GP, Soon CF, Ma NL, Morsin M, Nayan N, Ahmad MK, et al.
    Environ Res, 2021 10;201:111592.
    PMID: 34175291 DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111592
    MXene based nanomaterial is an uprising two-dimensional material gaining tremendous scientific attentions due to its versatile properties for the applications in electronic devices, power generation, sensors, drug delivery, and biomedicine. However, the cytotoxic effects of MXene still remained a huge concern. Therefore, stringent analysis of biocompatibility of MXene is an essential requirement before introduction to human physiological system. Several in vitro and in vivo toxicological studies have been reported to investigate the interactions between MXenes with living organisms such as microbes, mammalian cells and animal models. The biological response and cytotoxicity reported were dependent on the physicochemical properties of MXene. The biocompatibility and cytotoxicity of MXene were dependent on size, dose, and surface coating. This review demystifies the in vitro and in vivo biocompatibility studies associated with MXene. Various methods proposed to mitigate the cytotoxicity of MXene for in vivo applications were revealed. The machine learning methods were developed to predict the cytotoxicity of experimentally synthesized MXene compounds. Finally, we also discussed the current research gaps of applying MXenes in biomedical interventions.
  6. Soon CF, Omar WI, Berends RF, Nayan N, Basri H, Tee KS, et al.
    Micron, 2014 Jan;56:73-9.
    PMID: 24231674 DOI: 10.1016/j.micron.2013.10.011
    This study aimed at examining the biophysical characteristics of human derived keratinocytes (HaCaT) cultured on cholesteryl ester liquid crystals (CELC). CELC was previously shown to improve sensitivity in sensing cell contractions. Characteristics of the cell integrin expressions and presence of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins on the liquid crystals were interrogated using various immunocytochemical techniques. The investigation was followed by characterization of the chemical properties of the liquid crystals (LC) after immersion in cell culture media using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The surface morphology of cells adhered to the LC was studied using atomic force microscopy (AFM). Consistent with the expressions of the integrins α2, α3 and β1, extracellular matrix proteins (laminin, collagen type IV and fibronectin) were found secreted by the HaCaT onto CELC and these proteins were also secreted by cells cultured on the glass substrates. FTIR analysis of the LC revealed the existence of spectrum assigned to cholesterol and ester moieties that are essential compounds for the metabolizing activities of keratinocytes. The immunostainings indicated that cell adhesion on the LC is mediated by self-secreted ECM proteins. As revealed by the AFM imaging, the constraint in cell membrane spread on the LC leads to the increase in cell surface roughness and thickness of cell membrane. The biophysical expressions of cells on biocompatible CELC suggested that CELC could be a new class of biological relevant material.
  7. Soon CF, Thong KT, Tee KS, Ismail AB, Denyer M, Ahmad MK, et al.
    Biotech Histochem, 2016 May;91(4):283-95.
    PMID: 27008034 DOI: 10.3109/10520295.2016.1158865
    We describe a new scaffold-free three-dimensional (3D) cell culture model using cholesteryl ester based lyotropic liquid crystal (LC) substrates. Keratinocytes were deposited randomly on the LC surface where they self-assembled into 3D microtissues or keratinospheroids. The cell density required to form spheroids was optimized. We investigated cell viability using dead/live cell assays. The adhesion characteristics of cells within the microtissues were determined using histological sectioning and immunofluorescence staining. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to characterize the biochemistry of the keratinospheroids. We found that both cells and microtissues could migrate on the LC surface. The viability study indicated approximately 80% viability of cells in the microtissues up to 20 days of culture. Strong intercellular adhesion was observed in the stratification of the multi-layered microspheroids using field emission-scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM) and histochemical staining. The cytoskeleton and vinculins of the cells in the microtissues were expressed diffusely, but the microtissues were enriched with lipids and nucleic acids, which indicates close resemblance to the conditions in vivo. The basic 3D culture model based on LC may be used for cell and microtissue migration studies in response to cytochemical treatment.
  8. Soon CF, Tee KS, Wong SC, Nayan N, Sargunan Sundra, Ahmad MK, et al.
    Cytotechnology, 2018 Feb;70(1):13-29.
    PMID: 29189979 DOI: 10.1007/s10616-017-0168-2
    Growing three dimensional (3D) cells is an emerging research in tissue engineering. Biophysical properties of the 3D cells regulate the cells growth, drug diffusion dynamics and gene expressions. Scaffold based or scaffoldless techniques for 3D cell cultures are rarely being compared in terms of the physical features of the microtissues produced. The biophysical properties of the microtissues cultured using scaffold based microencapsulation by flicking and scaffoldless liquid crystal (LC) based techniques were characterized. Flicking technique produced high yield and highly reproducible microtissues of keratinocyte cell lines in alginate microcapsules at approximately 350 ± 12 pieces per culture. However, microtissues grown on the LC substrates yielded at lower quantity of 58 ± 21 pieces per culture. The sizes of the microtissues produced using alginate microcapsules and LC substrates were 250 ± 25 μm and 141 ± 70 μm, respectively. In both techniques, cells remodeled into microtissues via different growth phases and showed good integrity of cells in field-emission scanning microscopy (FE-SEM). Microencapsulation packed the cells in alginate scaffolds of polysaccharides with limited spaces for motility. Whereas, LC substrates allowed the cells to migrate and self-stacking into multilayered structures as revealed by the nuclei stainings. The cells cultured using both techniques were found viable based on the live and dead cell stainings. Stained histological sections showed that both techniques produced cell models that closely replicate the intrinsic physiological conditions. Alginate microcapsulation and LC based techniques produced microtissues containing similar bio-macromolecules but they did not alter the main absorption bands of microtissues as revealed by the Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. Cell growth, structural organization, morphology and surface structures for 3D microtissues cultured using both techniques appeared to be different and might be suitable for different applications.
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