Thursday, February 25, 2010

Microencapsulation for Cell Delivery

Microencapsulation is currently the most widely used form of cell delivery with preparation methods including:

1. Gelation and polyelectrolyte complexation,
2. Interfacial polymerization/phase inversion and
3. Conformal coating.

Microencapsulation involves surrounding a collection of cells with a thin generally micrometer sized, semipermeable membrane. Its primary purpose is to protect the encapsulated cells from the host’s immune system, while allowing the exchange of small molecules and thereby ensuring cell survival and function. There are several requirements for polymer capsules or hydrogels used as components of microcapsules:

# Noncytotoxicity to the encapsulated cells

# Biocompatibility with the surrounding environment where capsules are to be implanted (e.g., minimal fibrotic response)

# Adequate permeability for diffusion of essential nutrients (e.g., oxygen and glucose for islets of Langerhans) and cell secretory products (such as insulin, metabolic waste)

# Impermeability to secreted antibodies of the host’s immune system (e.g., immunoglobulins and glycoproteins after complement activation

# Chemical and mechanical stability

From the technological point of view, the requirements for microencapsulation include:

# Small capsule diameters to ensure sufficient diffusion and internal organ transplantability (depending on application, < 400 μm for bioartificial pancreas), with the cell centering within the microcapsule

# Minimum shrinking/swelling due to changes in osmotic conditions upon transplantation

# Uniform wall thickness for optimum transport of molecules across the membrane and effective immunoprotection.

In addition, the technology used for encapsulation must be nontraumatic to the encapsulated cells. This includes minimizing the mechanical stress during encapsulation and solvent toxicity (if any), as well as optimizing temperature, viscosity, pH and ionic strength. This, in turn, limits the concentration and molecular mass which can be employed. In addition, the ionic content of the polymer backbone (density distribution of charges in the polymer chain), the chemistry and location of functional group attachment, the chain rigidity, aromaticity, conformation and extent of branching were identified as important variables in the type of complex produced. The presence of secondary hydrogen bonding interactions was also found to be significant.

Several problems may prevent wide scale application of microcapsules in the clinic. The capsules can clump together, in which case the cells towards the center may suffer severely from limited diffusion of oxygen and nutrients. A substantial fraction of the capsules may also adhere to tissue. If the capsules degrade, the liberated islet cells, even if nonviable, would greatly increase the antigenic burden on the patient. Semipermeable polymeric membranes have been developed with the aim of permitting the transplantation of xenogenic cells thus removing the need for immunosuppression therapy. However, early clinical implementations is not likely to involve xenografts or genetically modified cells but rather auto- and allografts supplemented by immunosuppression when necessary.

Tags: Bio Technology, Bio Genetics, Cell Encapsulation

Monday, February 15, 2010

Adhesion based Immobilization Techniques

Each immobilization method has specific properties and advantages. Therefore, the selection of a cell delivery technique depends heavily on the intended application.

Adhesion: Adhesion to a three-dimensional structure is used to immobilize cells for culture or analytical procedures as well as to provide a structural template directing cell growth and differentiation. Adhesion alone does not offer immunoisolation. For in vivo investigations, adhesion-based immobilization must be used in conjunction with either a polymeric membrane or matrix entrapment methods. This method is effective for surface binding, either on top of gel films or within hydrogel foams. Several hydrogels can be engineered with bioadhesive properties by methods which include interfacial polymerization, phase separation, interfacial precipitation and polyelectrolyte complexation. Factors affecting cell affinity and behavior on hydrogels include the general chemistry of the monomers and the crosslinks, hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties, and the surface charge and functionality. One method to enhance cell adhesion is by adding immobilized cell-adhesive proteins or oligopeptides, such as the arginine-glycine-aspartic acid sequence, in the hydrogel. The physical characteristics of the hydrogel also govern the adhesion affinity. Therefore, altering the pore size and network structure can modify cell adhesion as well as morphology and function. For some adhesion applications the mechanical strength is also important with a lower fractional porositygenerally creating stronger networks. Furthermore, closed pore systems make stronger hydrogels than open pore ones. With the adhesion approach, cells are generally plated onto the hydrogel and allowed to attach and migrate. Supplemented culture media provide the cells with essential nutrients for growth and development as well as a means of oxygen and metaboli product transport while in vitro.

Macroporous hydrogel membranes are manufactured by several techniques. One method of constructing pores large enough for cell growth is by phase separation in the polymer and solvent mixture. The “freeze thaw” and the porosigen techniques are two other approaches. The hydrogel is polymerized around a crystalline matrix made from freezing the aqueous solvent (freeze-thaw technique) or around a porosigen of desired size (porosigen technique). With the “freeze-thaw” method, the ice-based crystalline matrix is then thawed after UV polymerization, leaving a macroporous foam. The porosigen technique also requires removal of the crystalline porosigens, in this case usually by leaching or dispersion after polymerizing of the hydrogel with free-radical initiators has taken place. Another method for constructing hydrogel foams uses gas bubbles from sodium bicarbonate to create the macroporous network. Bubbles are trapped during the gelation stage. Thus, the foam morphology is dependent on the polymerization kineics and varies for different hydrogel compositions.

Tags: Bio Technology, Bio Genetics, Cell Encapsulation