RegenMed and stem cell gadgets series is an overview of “smart devices”, chips, matrices and biomaterials for research and therapy.
1. Printing liquid scaffolds for artificial tissue
Oxford’s scientists have developed a new method of printing scaffolds with enormous potential in tissue engineering and drug delivery:
Scientists trying to engineer tissue typically start with biodegradable solid or gel scaffolds and then seed living cells onto them. But having greater control over cell spreading and tissue growth would be a big plus for researchers.
A scaffold made of liquid compartments could provide that versatility.
As a prototype of artificial tissue,, the authors were able to show electric signal transfer through the scaffold:
The droplet networks can be functionalized with membrane proteins; for example, to allow rapid electrical communication along a specific path.
Watch this amazing video:
2. Implantable Cell Pouch for cell therapy
Canadian company Sernova is developing a new way of cell therapy for diabetes. They use a Cell Pouch implantable device to protect allogeneic islet cells from host immune system. In the August 2012, the company announced the first in human use of Cell Pouch. Recently, the company gave an update on clinical program and shared some future plans:
But the goal in the future is to integrate the local immune protection technology into the Cell Pouch itself. Toleikis is also in talks with stem cell companies and makers of porcine cells to ultimately expand the supply of islet cells that the company can use to develop its therapy.
In the August 2012, the company announced the first in human use of Cell Pouch.
3. Growing complex tissues in magnetic levitation
Nano3D Biosciences in collaboration with Rice University is developing a 3D cell culture systems using magnetic levitation for the last few years. Recently, they have published a new study, which demonstrates that their method allows to create a complex mini-organ:
The 3D coculture model was assembled from four human cell types in the bronchiole: endothelial cells, smooth muscle cells (SMCs), fibroblasts, and epithelial cells (EpiCs). This study represents the first effort to combine these particular cell types into an organized bronchiole coculture.
4. Adhesion–based label-free isolation of human pluripotent stem cells
New method, based on adhesion was proposed for isolation of stem cells:
researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have demonstrated a tunable process that separates cells according to the degree to which they adhere to a substrate inside a tiny microfluidic device. The adhesion properties of the hiPSCs differ significantly from those of the cells with which they are mixed, allowing the potentially-therapeutic cells to be separated to as much as 99 percent purity.
The high-throughput separation process, which takes less than 10 minutes to perform, does not rely on labeling technologies such as antibodies.
The study published online in Nature Methods.
5. Microfluidics for sorting embryonic stem cells
Researchers from Scottland proposed to use physical forces to sort embryonic stem cells from their differentiated progeny. They used a method called dielectrophoresis, which based on application of electric field:
They varied the frequency of the voltage used to generate the electric field and studied how the cells moved, a response that was affected by the cell’s electrical properties. The researchers found that differentiated stem cells could store a significantly greater charge on their outer membranes, a characteristic that might be used to effectively identify and separate them from undifferentiated cells.
You can read an article here.
6. Microfabricated scale-down device for regenerative medicine process development
A group of bioengineers from University College London described a prototype of device, which could be used for process development in cell therapy and regenerative medicine:
Automated, parallelised and instrumented, miniaturised bioreactors deliver quantitative data on the growth kinetics in real time, from culture volumes as small as 5 microlitres.
… in short, bioreactor miniaturisation has changed the way early stage process development can be approached in traditional biotechnology.
… due to the high cost of media components and the slow growth rate of stem cells, it is obvious that regenerative medicine process development will benefit from a similar technology drive towards miniaturisation.
7. Nanofiber scaffold for controlled delivery cells and growth factors in regenerative medicine
A prototype of new “magic scaffold”, which allows controlled delivery of cells and growth factors in place of injury, was recently described by group of researchers:
Platelet-derived growth factor BB (PDGF-BB), along with adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs), were incorporated into a heparin/fibrin-based delivery system (HBDS). This hydrogel was then layered with an electrospun nanofiber poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) backbone. The HBDS allowed for the concurrent delivery of PDGF-BB and ASCs in a controlled manner, while the PLGA backbone provided structural integrity for surgical handling and tendon implantation.