Researchers have created the world’s first plant-based bioactive nanocellulose hydrogel. It supports the growth of organelles and helps lower cancer and COVID-19 research costs.

The new development will allow developing organelles cheaper, faster, and more ethically. The hydrogel will also improve drug screening and modeling of various diseases: infections like COVID-19; metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes, and cancer. With additional testing, this hydrogel will become available to health researchers in less than 12 months.

Also, nanocellulose gels are inexpensive – the price for 10 ml costs less than $1, while the cost of an analog is more than $600.

Also, nanocellulose gels are of plant origin. Their use does not require the extraction of animal organs for advanced medical research.

Organoids are three-dimensional, scaled-down, and simplified versions of organs capable of replicating their behavior and function. Such “mini-organs” is a convenient tool for studying biological processes. With the help of organelles, scientists are studying how cells interact in an organ, how diseases affect them, and the effect of drug treatment.

Organoids are formed from embryonic and adult stem cells and primary healthy or malignant tissues. Now the creation of organelles depends on this expensive material. This discourages the use of organelles in high-throughput screening, regenerative medicine, and diagnostics.

The developed nanocellulose gel is an alternative to traditional organelle cultivation, which reduces the cost of disease research.