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Abstract Inadequate oxygenation is a major challenge in cell encapsulation, a therapy which holds potential to treat many diseases including type I diabetes. In such systems, cellular oxygen (O 2 ) delivery is limited to slow passive diffusion from transplantation sites through the poorly O 2 -soluble encapsulating matrix, usually a hydrogel. This constrains the maximum permitted distance between the encapsulated cells and host site to within a few hundred micrometers to ensure cellular function. Inspired by the natural gas-phase tracheal O 2 delivery system of insects, we present herein the design of a biomimetic scaffold featuring internal continuous air channels endowed with 10,000-fold higher O 2 diffusivity than hydrogels. We incorporate the scaffold into a bulk hydrogel containing cells, which facilitates rapid O 2 transport through the whole system to cells several millimeters away from the device-host boundary. A computational model, validated by in vitro analysis, predicts that cells and islets maintain high viability even in a thick (6.6 mm) device. Finally, the therapeutic potential of the device is demonstrated through the correction of diabetes in immunocompetent mice using rat islets for over 6 months.more » « less
Cell replacement therapy is emerging as a promising treatment platform for many endocrine disorders and hormone deficiency diseases. The survival of cells within delivery devices is, however, often limited due to low oxygen levels in common transplantation sites. Additionally, replacing implanted devices at the end of the graft lifetime is often unfeasible and, where possible, generally requires invasive surgical procedures. Here, the design and testing of a modular transcutaneous biphasic (BP) cell delivery device that provides enhanced and unlimited oxygen supply by direct contact with the atmosphere is presented. Critically, the cell delivery unit is demountable from the fixed components of the device, allowing for surgery‐free refilling of the therapeutic cells. Mass transfer studies show significantly improved performance of the BP device in comparison to subcutaneous controls. The device is also tested for islet encapsulation in an immunocompetent diabetes rodent model. Robust cell survival and diabetes correction is observed following a rat‐to‐mouse xenograft. Lastly, nonsurgical cell refilling is demonstrated in dogs. These studies show the feasibility of this novel device for cell replacement therapies.