Secreted cytokines by transplanted cells can have positive effects such as immunomodulation, angiogenesis and tissue regeneration. However, transplanted cells are difficult to retain in a specific place to maximize the release of cytokines on site. Here, we developed a hollow electrospun scaffold with one open and one closed end for the in vivo delivery of cells as ?secretory factories? in a hydrogel, termed the hydrocup. Because of the closed end, a (cell-laden) hydrogel can easily be dispensed into the open end of the hydrocup, after which the open end is closed with sutures. As part of the ERC starting grant where this application stems from, we showed that adult stem cells encapsulated inside the hydrocups remained viable for 28 days in vitro and released functional cytokines similar to hMSCs in hydrogels alone. In addition, the hydrocups remained intact and fixed in place for 6 weeks after subcutaneous implantation in rats. In this ERC proof of concept proposal, we aim at further studying the hydrocup as a device for a wide variety of cell-based cytokine secretion or drug-laden hydrogel applications. We will further refine the device for applications in the cardiac regeneration market where stem cell based therapies suffer so far from low viability of cells after injection. We will make a market analysis study of competitors in the cell therapy field and propose an initial business plan for seeking further investments to create a spin-off company at the end of the grant.
- HORIZON.1.1 - European Research Council (ERC) Main Programme