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Microgravity Separation of Alginate Empty Capsules from Encapsulated Pancreatic Islets Using a Microfluidic System

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Although microencapsulated pancreatic islets have merits, such as ease of transplantation, viability and functionality improvement, and immune protection in vivo, the co-production of alginate empty capsules during the encapsulation of islets with alginate makes them unusable for biomedical application. In previous research, the removal of empty alginate capsules with high yield was achieved using density-gradient centrifugation. Here, we report advanced microgravity-based separation techniques in a microfluidic format for alginate empty capsules. The optimal separation conditions were mathematically evaluated using Stokes’ law and the separation of the encapsulation product was accomplished. A microfluidic chip was designed with two inlets and two outlets at different elevations to mimic the vertical percoll gradient in density-gradient centrifugation. The separation of alginate empty capsules using microgravitational force resulted in effective separation of encapsulated islets from alginate empty capsules with more than 70% efficiency. Moreover, no loss of encapsulated islets was expected because the process is a one-pot separation, unlike the previous method. This type of microgravitational particle separation could be used both for the fractionization of heterogeneous encapsulated cells and to remove empty capsules.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2015

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  • Journal for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (JNN) is an international and multidisciplinary peer-reviewed journal with a wide-ranging coverage, consolidating research activities in all areas of nanoscience and nanotechnology into a single and unique reference source. JNN is the first cross-disciplinary journal to publish original full research articles, rapid communications of important new scientific and technological findings, timely state-of-the-art reviews with author's photo and short biography, and current research news encompassing the fundamental and applied research in all disciplines of science, engineering and medicine.
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