Encapsulation of Stem Cells in Research and Therapy

  • Isgard S. Hueck
  • Jane Frimodig
  • Pamela Itkin-Ansari
  • David A. Gough


As stem cell therapies advance, rethinking of medical device engineering provides promise for treatment options in clinical applications. In the past decades, cell transplantation has been an approach for many regenerative therapies. To date, however, limited human donor supply has hampered the transplantation of human organs and mature donor tissues for an increasing number of patients worldwide, particularly those with liver and pancreatic diseases. This chapter explores the use of stem cells as an alternative to implantation of mature cells and discusses the development of stem cell therapies that may promote organ regeneration, or delivery of endocrine products in vivo, and their challenges for the use in clinical applications. Aspects of stem cell differentiation strategies, microenvironmental factors, and cellular immunity are addressed. A second limitation to cellular transplantation has been the need for chronic immunosuppression. As an alternative to clinical immunosuppression, designs and materials for cellular encapsulation, intended to avoid rejection by the immune system and to control growth of cellular implants, have been developed. Liver disease is chosen to show examples of stem cell micro-encapsulation approaches in research and therapy. Secondly, a stem cell macro-encapsulation device is used as an example for a bio-artificial pancreas as a possible therapeutic approach for diabetes mellitus. The focus of this chapter is on the synergy between stem cell therapy and medical device engineering as a multi-disciplinary approach in the field of bioengineering, which may eventually provide new options for treatment of human disease.


Stem cell therapy Embryonic stem cell Induced pluripotent stem cell Progenitor cell Encapsulation Cellular implantation Diabetes mellitus Chronic liver disease Regenerative medicine Artificial pancreas Biomaterial Immunoisolation Neovascularization Tissue engineering 



Extra Cellular Matrix


Human Embryonic Stem Cell


Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell


Liver Progenitor Cell


Mesenchymal Stem Cell


Pancreatic Progenitor Cell



We thank Dr. Kevin D’Amour for providing images from pre-clinical and clinical work at ViaCyte, San Diego, USA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isgard S. Hueck
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jane Frimodig
    • 1
  • Pamela Itkin-Ansari
    • 1
    • 2
  • David A. Gough
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Bioengineering and Whitaker Institute of Biomedical EngineeringUniversity of California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery InstituteLa JollaUSA

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