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Alginate can be used to encapsulate mammalian cells and for the slow release of small molecules. Packaging alginate as microbead structures allows customizable delivery for tissue engineering, drug release, or contrast agents for imaging. However, state-of-the-art microbead fabrication has a limited range in achievable bead sizes, and poor control over bead placement, which may be desired to localize cellular signaling or delivery. Herein, we present a novel, laser-based method for single-step fabrication and precise planar placement of alginate microbeads. Our results show that bead size is controllable within 8%, and fabricated microbeads can remain immobilized within 2% of their target placement. Demonstration of this technique using human breast cancer cells shows that cells encapsulated within these microbeads survive at a rate of 89.6%, decreasing to 84.3% after five days in culture. Infusing rhodamine dye into microbeads prior to fluorescent microscopy shows their 3D spheroidal geometry and the ability to sequester small molecules. Microbead fabrication and patterning is compatible with conventional cellular transfer and patterning by laser direct-write, allowing location-based cellular studies. While this method can also be used to fabricate microbeads en masse for collection, the greatest value to tissue engineering and drug delivery studies and applications lies in the pattern registry of printed microbeads.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 Eighth St., Troy, NY 12180, USA.
This article was published in the following journal.
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