Current cell-culture is largely performed on synthetic two-dimensional (2D) petri dishes or permeable supports such as Boyden chambers, mostly because of their ease of use and established protocols. It is generally accepted that modern cell biology research requires new physiologically relevant three-dimensional (3D) cell culture platform to mimic in vivo cell responses. To that end, we report the design and development of a suspended hydrogel membrane (ShyM) platform using gelatin methacrylate (GelMA) hydrogel. ShyM thickness (0.25–1 mm) and mechanical properties (10–70 kPa) can be varied by controlling the size of the supporting grid and concentration of GelMA prepolymer, respectively. GelMA ShyMs, with dual media exposure, were found to be compatible with both the cell-seeding and the cell-encapsulation approach as tested using murine 10T1/2 cells and demonstrated higher cellular spreading and proliferation as compared to flat GelMA unsuspended control. The utility of ShyM was also demonstrated using a case-study of invasion of cancer cells. ShyMs, similar to Boyden chambers, are compatible with standard well-plates designs and can be printed using commonly available 3D printers. In the future, ShyM can be potentially extended to variety of photosensitive hydrogels and cell types, to develop new in vitro assays to investigate complex cell–cell and cell–extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions.

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