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November 18, 2020 Wednesday 03:46:10 PM IST

SMART researchers develop gelatin microcarrier for cell production

Science Innovations

Researchers from Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, have developed a novel microcarrier for large-scale cell production and expansion that offers higher yield and cost-effectiveness compared to traditional methods, and reduces steps required in the cell retrieval process. Microcarriers are particles used in bioreactor-based cell manufacturing of anchorage-dependent cells. SMART’s newly developed dissolvable gelatin-based microcarrier has proven useful for expansion of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), a cell type of great current interest, as they can be isolated from adult tissues and further expanded to treat various ailments such as bone and cartilage defects and the body’s rejection of foreign bone-marrow and cells (called graft vs. host disease). This dissolvability of the microcarriers also eliminates an additional separation step to retrieve the cells from the microcarriers. This reduces the complexity of cell manufacturing and increasing the ease with which the therapeutic cells can be harvested to make the product for patients.

SMART’s Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalized-Medicine (CAMP) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG) discovered that gelatin microcarriers, which fully dissolve in enzymatic treatment, can be useful in the cell recovery step — one of the current bottlenecks faced in 3D microcarrier culture. The novel gelatin microcarrier showed higher yield and reduced cell loss at the cell harvesting step compared to commercial microcarriers, with comparable cell attachment efficiency and proliferation rate.

Their discovery is explained in a paper titled “Dissolvable gelatin-based microcarriers generated through droplet microfluidics for expansion and culture of mesenchymal stromal cells” published in Biotechnology Journal and co-authored by researchers from SMART CAMP, MIT, National University of Singapore, and City University of Hong Kong.

The research also showed that MSCs cultured by gelatin microcarriers retain critical quality attributes of retrieved cells, such as a higher degree of trilineage multipotency with more balanced differentiation performance compared to commercial microcarriers. Most commercial microcarriers showed similar trends in adipogenic differentiation efficiency, while losing some degrees of chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation capability.

While the study focused on whether gelatin microcarriers are suitable for MSC culture and expansion, the team’s research could potentially be extended for other types of anchorage-dependent cells.

The research is carried out by SMART and supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore under its Campus for Research Excellence And Technological Enterprise (CREATE) program.

(Content Courtesy: https://news.mit.edu/2020/smart-researchers-develop-gelatin-microcarrier-cell-production-1117)

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