Self-sustainable release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to the retina using minimally invasive cell-encapsulation devices is a promising approach to treat retinal degenerative diseases (RDD). Herein, we describe such a self-sustainable drug delivery device with human retinal pigment epithelial (ARPE-19) cells (cultured on collagen coated polystyrene (PS) sheets) enclosed inside a 3D printed semi-porous capsule. The capsule was 3D printed with two photo curable polymers: triethylene glycol dimethacrylate (TEGDM) and polyethylene glycol dimethylacrylate (PEGDM). The capsule's semi-porous membrane (PEGDM) could serve three functions: protecting the cells from body's immune system by limiting diffusion (5.97 ± 0.11%) of large molecules like immunoglobin G (IgG)(150 kDa); helping the cells to survive inside the capsule by allowing diffusion (43.20 ± 2.16%) of small molecules (40 kDa) like oxygen and necessary nutrients; and helping in the treatment of RDD by allowing diffusion of cell-secreted BDNF to the outside environment. In vitro results showed a continuous BDNF secretion from the device for at least 16 days, demonstrating future potential of the cell-encapsulation device for the treatment of RDD in a minimally invasive and self-sustainable way through a periocular transplant.
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