A hydrogel coating for cells helps protect them from immune system attacks and reduce the risks of implant rejection.
Developed by a team from Harvard, the hydrogel coating could have particular applications in bone marrow transplants. Building on a previous method of using a microfluidic device to coat individual cells, the team improved the microgel and tested it on Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), which can be used to reduce immune system attacks. While these MSCs can also be targeted by the immune system, the single-cell encapsulation achieved by the gel protects them and allows them to survive in the body much longer than uncoated cells.
The coated cells can also be stored longer than the uncoated versions, and the team believes the non-genetic approach could be more efficient than trying to directly modify the immune cells themselves.
Image Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University - Three-dimensional rendering shows the nucleus (greenish blue) and cytoskeleton (yellow) of a single encapsulated mesenchymal stromal cell surrounded by a thin layer of alginate hydrogel (purple).
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