Cell Gadgets series is an overview of “smart devices”, biochips, matrices and biomaterials for research and therapy.
1. Light-activated implantable smart hydrogel
Researchers from Georgia Tech made a light-triggered hydrogel with cell adhesive peptide and growth factors. They demonstrated that transdermal UV light exposure can activate cell adhesion, inflammation and vascularization of hydrogel in vivo. The study published in Nature Materials.
2. Microfluidic chip to deliver genetic material into the cell
Mechanical squeezing of cells in microfluidics chip narrow channels makes cell membrane permeable to genetic material or drugs. This approach used by new startup company SQZ Biotech. If this technology will work as efficient as viral transduction, it may disrupt cell gene therapy market:
In the longer run, Sharei said, CellSqueeze could be used in a therapeutic setting — say, by squeezing cancer-related proteins into human cells to teach people’s immune systems what to attack. Tests are not being done on humans yet. But if medical tests were to show success, CellSqueeze therapies could be done much more cheaply than other new anticancer treatments that involve changing the genes of individual cells, like CAR T cell therapy, Sharei said.
3. BioGenerator for cardiac cell therapy
NuVascular Technologies in collaboration with Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and BioSurfaces, Inc. has developed an implantable “stem cell device” for heart repair:
The BioGenerator is a medical device consisting of two essential parts: a capsule made from BioSurfaces’ patented electrospinning technology, and stem cells derived from adult bone marrow at WPI. The BioGenerator can be stitched into the heart muscle wall or injected into the heart muscle itself through a catheter (Figure attached). Both options are minimally invasive, do not require open-heart surgery and allow the heart to repair itself. The encased stem cells release proteins and growth factors that move through the device into the heart muscle, stimulating the cardiac myocytes to grow and repair damage.
4. Artificial bone marrow niche for platelets generation
Italian researchers created artificial bone marrow niche from programmable 3D silk. The demonstrated platelets production from hematopoietic progenitor cells in vitro:
A critical feature of the system is the use of natural silk protein biomaterial allowing us to leverage its biocompatibility, non-thrombogenic features, programmable mechanical properties, and surface binding of cytokines, extracellular matrix components and endothelial-derived proteins. This in turn offers new opportunities for the study of blood component production ex vivo and provides a superior tissue system for the study of pathologic mechanisms of human platelet production.
5. Dielectrophoresis-based chip separates stem cells and their progeny
New microfluidic continuous-flow chip, which based on dielectrophoresis, was tested on separation of mesenchymal stromal cells from their osteogenic progeny:
Collection efficiency up to 92% and 67% for hMSCs and osteoblasts, respectively, along with purity up to 84% and 87% was obtained. The experimental results established the feasibility of our microfluidic DEP sorting device for continuous, label-free sorting of stem cells and their differentiation progenies.
6. Holographic optical tweezers for cellular micromanipulation
Scientists from University of Nottingham described a very precise tool – holographic optical tweezers (HOT) for micromanipulation of cells and their environment. They successfully created artificial niches from embryonic stem cells and biomaterials:
We demonstrate the combination of a HOTs system with controllable and tailored structural elements including polymeric materials, ECM, controlled release microparticles and hydrogels. These elements were micro-manipulated into complex architectures precisely controlling physical and chemical factors to produce micro-environmental analogues.
7. Printing nerve guidance conduits for neural repair
Researchers from University of Sheffield used 3D printing for generation of nerve guidance conduits. Implantation of printed nerve conduits were able re-innervate 3 mm injury gap in 21 days and were comparable to autograft control. The study published in Biomaterials.
The study provides a technology platform for the rapid microfabrication of biocompatible materials, a novel method for in vivo evaluation, and a benchmark for future development in more advanced NGC designs, biodegradable and larger device sizes, and longer-term implantation studies.