UBCO team makes headway
Okanagan Edge Staff - Apr 25, 2019 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed
Gamal uses the newly developed cell encapsulation device.

UBCO researchers have been hard at work in an attempt to make the regeneration of damaged tissue quicker and more cost-effective, and it appears they have done just that.

Keekyoung Kim, who is an assistant professor of engineering at UBC Okanagan, co-authored a study in which a research group developed a device that makes encapsulating cells much faster, cheaper and more effective.

“The idea of injecting different kinds of tissue cells is not a new one,” Kim said in a press release. “It’s an enticing concept, because by introducing cells into damaged tissue we can supercharge the body’s own processes to regrow and repair an injury.”

The technology could be used to help with broken bones and torn ligaments, and possibly even organs down the road. The key, according to the researchers, is protecting the injected cells to make them effective.

“It turns out that to ensure cell survival, they need to be encased in a coating that protects them from physical damage and from the body’s own immune system,” said Mohamed Gamal, a doctoral student in biomedical engineering and the study’s lead author. “But it has been extremely difficult to do that kind of cell encapsulation, which has until now been done in a very costly, time consuming and wasteful process.”

Kim and Gamal came up with an automated encapsulation device that encases many cells in a microgel using a specialized blue laser. It purifies them to produce a clean useable sample in just a few minutes. The advantage of their system is that over 85 per cent of the cells survive and the process can be easily scaled up.

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