Foresty industry company UPM, together with the University of Helsinki, has developed a wood-based GrowDex gel for growing cell cultures. GrowDex resembles a human intercellular substance, which mimics a natural growth environment.
In previous three-dimensional gels the problem has been the availability of nutrients and oxygen, prerequisites for cell growth. GrowDex solves this problem. It does not include substances of animal origin. This reduces the growth of microbes.
GrowDex is made from pulp, which is ground to smooth nano-fiber gel. It resembles the natural growth environment of cells in the human body very closely.
With the help of the gel it is possible to grow human cells and cancer cells, for example, and test medicines. One target is to grow new human organs to replace damaged ones with the help of the gel.
UPM has established a development centre with the Biomedicum at the University of Helsinki to continue the development work of GrowDex gel.