Towards a fully synthetic substitute of alginate: Optimization of a thermal gelation/chemical cross-linking scheme ("tandem" gelation) for the production of beads and liquid-core capsules

F. Cellesi, W. Weber, M. Fussenegger, J. A. Hubbell, N. Tirelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fully synthetic polymers were used for the preparation of hydrogel beads and capsules, in a processing scheme that, originally designed for calcium alginate, was adapted to a "tandem" process, that is the combination a physical gelation with a chemical cross-linking. The polymers feature a Tetronic backbone (tetra armed Pluronics), which exhibits a reverse thermal gelation in water solutions within a physiological range of temperatures and pHs. The polymers bear terminal reactive groups that allow for a mild, but effective chemical cross-linking. Given an appropriate temperature jump, the thermal gelation provides a hardening kinetics similar to that of alginate. With slower kinetics, the chemical cross-linking then develops an irreversible and elastic gel structure, and determines its transport properties. In the present article this process has been optimized for the production of monodisperse, high elastic, hydrogel microbeads, and liquid-core microcapsules. We also show the feasibility of the use of liquid-core microcapsules in cell encapsulation. In preliminary experiments, CHO cells have been successfully encapsulated preserving their viability during the process and after incubation. The advantages of this process are mainly in the use of synthetic polymers, which provide great flexibility in the molecular design. This, in principle, allows for a precise tailoring of mechanical and transport properties and of bioactivity of the hydrogels, and also for a precise control in material purification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)740-749
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Volume88
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 20 2004

Keywords

  • Cell encapsulation
  • Michael-type addition
  • Set break-up
  • Thermal gelation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology

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