Microfluidic approach to manufacturing controlled islet encapsulations for immunoprotection that can be scaled to produce large volumes of accurate capsules with desired properties
Type Idiabetes is an autoimmune disease resulting in a complete loss of the body's(pancreas) ability to produce insulin. Islet transplantation has been proven tobe successful in curing this condition. However, to avoid immunosuppressionregimen that is currently required for direct islet transplants,microencapsulated islets where the islets are protected from the body's immunesystem while being able to access nutrients and discharge waste has proven tobe a promising technique. A controlled, reproducible, and rapid manufacturingstrategy is needed to produce large volumes of viable microencapsulated isletswith tight tolerances and microstructures for transplants in large animals andhumans. We will explore and develop a scalable microfluidic device approach forlarge scale islet microencapsulation to meet the demands of clinical use. Atthe completion of this one-year project we hope to demonstrate an optimumdesign of encapsulated islets for sustained efficacy after transplantation aswell as a prototype device for mass production of encapsulated islets.Sustained efficacy is affected by the uniformity of the size of capsules tofully cover the islets that vary widely in dimensions, optimal porosity forcell viability, and the reduction/elimination of empty capsules to reducetransplant volume. We will apply the fundamental principles of fluid dynamics,cross-linking chemistry, surface chemistry, cell metabolics, and mechanics ofcapsule deformation to discover foundational principles leading to innovativesolutions for a scalable microfluidic device to achieve the goal of large-scalemanufacture of microencapsulated islets to meet clinical needs.
An engineered system involving microfluidic device to successfully encapsulate islets with controllable capsule characteristics for maximum viability.
Students will be involved to learn through designing microfluidic devices, manufacturing them, and testing them for desired performance. Design will be guided by computational and analytical methods that will provide an effective handle on the cross-linking chemistry, surface tension effects, fluid flow design for successful encapsulation, and exploration of methods for identifying and sorting out empty capsules. Undergraduates with a research interest in this area, graduate students and postdocs working with microfluidics with an interest to take this on as a time-limited augmentation project are welcome.