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Biotechnol Prog. 2019 May 26:e2851. doi: 10.1002/btpr.2851. [Epub ahead of print]

Development of a microchannel emulsification process for pancreatic beta cell encapsulation.

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Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Department for Biomaterials Research, Polymer Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Advanced Radio Frequency Systems Laboratory, CMC Microsystems, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.


In this study, we developed a high-throughput microchannel emulsification process to encapsulate pancreatic beta cells in monodisperse alginate beads. The process builds on a stirred emulsification and internal gelation method previously adapted to pancreatic cell encapsulation. Alginate bead production was achieved by flowing a 0.5-2.5% alginate solution with cells and CaCO3 across a 1-mm thick polytetrafluoroethylene plate with 700 × 200 μm rectangular straight-through channels. Alginate beads ranging from 1.5-3 mm in diameter were obtained at production rates exceeding 140 mL/hr per microchannel. Compared to the stirred emulsification process, the microchannel emulsification beads had a narrower size distribution and demonstrated enhanced compressive burst strength. Both microchannel and stirred emulsification beads exhibited homogeneous profiles of 0.7% alginate concentration using an initial alginate solution concentration of 1.5%. Encapsulated beta cell viability of 89 ± 2% based on live/dead staining was achieved by minimizing the bead residence time in the acidified organic phase fluid. Microchannel emulsification is a promising method for clinical-scale pancreatic beta cell encapsulation as well as other applications in the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic industries.


alginate; cellular therapy; emulsion; encapsulation; microchannel


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