Experiment: Use of Alcian blue histological stain as a textile dye and as a biological coating agent on degummed, UV-sterilized silk fibre. Uses of Alcian blue were for both aesthetic (for colour) as well as biologically functional reasons: Alcian blue promotes cell adhesion to surfaces because of its positive charge, potentially assisting in tissue formation on manufactured scaffolds. Dye stock solution was mixed at 10% which proved cytotoxic even after thoroughly washing the exhausted dye out, ultimately resulting in the expiry of all cells in the culture. This video shows a time lapse of 24 hours of cells in culture on the Alcian blue silk fibres. Initially, cell adhesion was excellent but the video shows that over 24 hours, cells released from the fibre as they expired.
Results: Alcian blue useful for cell adhesion but destructive to cell cultures when mixed and used at 10%. Future experiments would include mixing Alcian blue at 0.05% dye stock solution, meaning aesthetic components would most likely be lost but biological uses more likely to be successful.
Video produced August 2014 in collaboration with Guy Ben-Ary, Manager, CELLCentral, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, University of Western Australia. Part of my research conducted during an artist residency at SymbioticA Centre for Excellence in Biological Arts, University of Western Australia. Captured in the CELLCentral Live Cell Imaging Suite. Funding provided by: artsnb, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Concordia University, and numerous private donors.