Image: Courtesy of Leoncio A. Vergara, UTMB, Marguerite Sognier & Nasa/JSC Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering Lab
 SPACE-AGE CELL CULTURE: This 3-D human rhabdomyosarcoma cell aggregate was grown in a disposable High Aspect-Ratio Vessel (HARV) in Synthecon's Rotating Cell Culture System.

Biotechnology advances at a furious pace, yet for the most part, cell culture remains fixed in the past. Over the last decade, however, a new technology has emerged that models the microgravity of space--and it's allowing some researchers to go where no researchers have gone before.

The Rotary Cell Culture System™ (RCCS), invented at NASA and introduced commercially by Houston-based Synthecon in 1990, uses motion to launch cells into a three-dimensional (3-D) orbital dance and a near- weightless environment in which they tend to interact, differentiate, and grow. Fragile cell and tissue cultures that won't grow in other culture systems tend to bloom into complex, large-scale, 3-D constructs.

"If you recognize...

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