We continue to review smart devices in regenerative medicine and stem cell research, which we call “gadgets“. This is the first review in 2012. If you find this series interesting, please leave your feedback.
I’d like to start from a device, which is undergoing clinical trial right now.
1. “Stem Cell Educator” device for treatment of diabetes type 1
Stem Cell Educator (made by Tianhe Stem Cell Biotechnology, China) – extracorporeal device, which composed of cartridges filled with allogeneic cord blood-derived multipotent stem cells. Stem cells were isolated by published protocol and cultured for 2-3 weeks. During the procedure, patient’s leukocytes, enriched in Blood Cell Separator MCS+ (Haemonetics), undergo “education” with cord blood stem cells during 2-3 hours and get re-infused:
(Zhao et al. BMC Medicine 2012 10:3 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-3)
Stem Cell Educator therapy can markedly improve C-peptide levels, reduce the median glycated hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C) values, and decrease the median daily dose of insulin in patients with some residual β cell function (n = 6) and patients with no residual pancreatic islet β cell function (n = 6).
2. Cellular “microvascular stamp”
The team from University of Illinois have demonstrated that angiogenesis in vivo could be controlled by the biomaterial with embedded living cells:
The stamp consists of live cells that secrete angiogenic factors, an engineered hydrogel matrix that promotes cellular expression of angiogenic factors, and a three-dimensional geometry that localizes the angiogenic factors within the pattern.
Potential applications of such stamp are enormous. You can read full article here.
3. 3D Petri Dish
3D Petri DishTM (MicroTissues Inc) is a pioneering commercial product for 3D cell culture. This is a great tool for studying cell-cell interactions, self-assembly and creation tissue engineering constructs.
4. Microchip for cell separation by rolling
The prototype of the first microchip for cell sorting based on leukocytes rolling was created at MIT. From the MIT press-release:
“We’re working on a disposable device where you wouldn’t even need a syringe pump to drive the separation,” says Rohit Karnik, the d’Arbeloff Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. “You could potentially buy a $5 or $10 kit and get the cells sorted without needing any kind of [additional] instrument.”
Karnik says the device may be replicated and stacked to sort large batches of cells at relatively low cost. He and his colleagues are hoping to apply the device to sort other blood cells, as well as certain types of cancer cells for diagnostic applications and stem cells for therapeutic applications. To do that, the team is investigating molecules similar to P-selectin that bind weakly to such cells. In the future, Karnik envisions tailor-made cell rolling, designing molecules and surfaces that weakly adhere to any desired type of cell.
Published in Lab on a Chip.
5. Fluid-permeable microfluidic chip for cell capture
One more chip from Boston. The advantage of new cell capturing device is fluid-permeable surface covered with cell-specific antibodies. This chip allows to sort cells at very high flow rate. Read more in press-release:
One potential application for these devices is to isolate cancer cells from patient blood samples. Toner’s group has previously shown that the number of circulating tumor cells in the bloodstream correlates with the clinical response to treatment in a given patient, suggesting the potential for personalized medicine for cancer patients.
Published in Biophysical Journal
6. Controlled release of cells from chip
This study brings us closer to clinical application of label-free cell capturing devices. From the abstract:
Although cell capture methods have been demonstrated in microfluidic systems, the release of captured cells remains a significant challenge. Viable retrieval of captured label-free cells in microchannels will enable a new era in biological sciences by allowing cultivation and post-processing.
Manual flow based microfluidic method utilizes inexpensive, easy to fabricate microchannels allowing selective label-free cell capture and release in less than 10 minutes, which can also be used at the point-of-care.