A major challenge to emerging cell-based medicine including gene therapy is the host immune rejection of transplanted donor cells or engineered tissue. One way to address this problem is to use drugs to achieve immunosuppression. However, suppressing the patient’s immune system may put the patient at risk for many other diseases. An alternative is to encapsulate living cells in macro/microcapsules to achieve immunoisolation of the cells, thereby increasing cell viability in the patient’s body following transplantation. The capsule’s membrane protects the encapsulated cells from being damaged by both the host’s immune system and mechanical stress while allowing free diffusion of nutrients and metabolic waste for the cells to survive. Moreover, the membrane could be designed to achieve controlled and/or sustained release of therapeutic products produced by the encapsulated transgenic cells to treat a variety of diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, anemia, wounds, bone fractures, and cancer.
Part of the book: Gene Therapy