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Biomacromolecules. 2006 Dec;7(12):3364-9.

Cell electrospinning: a unique biotechnique for encapsulating living organisms for generating active biological microthreads/scaffolds.

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  • 1Departments of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Mechanical Engineering, University College London, London, WC1E 6BT United Kingdom.


Jet-based technologies are increasingly being explored as potential high-throughput and high-resolution methods for the manipulation of biological materials. Previously shown to be of use in generating scaffolds from biocompatible materials, we were interested to explore the possibility of using electrospinning technology for the generation of scaffolds comprised of living cells. For this, it was necessary to identify appropriate parameters under which viable threads containing living cells could be produced. Here, we describe a method of electrospinning that can be used to deposit active biological threads and scaffolds. This has been achieved by use of a coaxial needle arrangement where a concentrated living biosuspension flows through the inner needle and a medical-grade poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) medium with high viscosity (12,500 mPa s) and low electrical conductivity (10-15 S m-1) flows through the outer needle. Using this technique, we have identified the operational conditions under which the finest cell-bearing composite microthreads are formed. Collected cells that have been cultured, postelectrospinning, have been viable and show no evidence of having incurred any cellular damage during the bionanofabrication process. This study demonstrates the feasibility of using coaxial electrospinning technology for biological and biomedical applications requiring the deposition of living cells as composite microthreads for forming active biological scaffolds.

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