Physicians are increasingly using live cells in their treatments: in blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants, as well as in stem cell therapies and following severe burns. Cells taken from the patients themselves are ideal for replacing burned skin, eliminating immune deficiencies, repairing degenerated cartilage or to treat injured bones as they are not rejected by the immune system. These cells have to be kept, cultivated, reproduced or even modified in a patient-specific manner. The problem, however, lies in the storability of the cell solutions used. As they can easily become infected by germs, they can only be stored for a few days in the containers conventionally used today. The joint project InnoSurf aims to remedy this problem: scientists from five research institutions, along with partners in the industry have developed innovative plastic surfaces and measuring methods for efficiently producing human cells for diagnostic and therapeutic applications. The work was coordinated by the Helmholz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig, Germany.
The idea is to cultivate the cells in sealed, sterile plastic bags. The inner surface of the bags has to be modified so that they provide cells with good conditions for survival. A team led by Dr. Michael Thomas at the Fraunhofer Institute for Surface Engineering and Thin Films IST in Braunschweig, Germany, has now developed a plasma technology process for use at atmospheric pressure. "We fill the bags with a specific gas mixture and apply an electrical voltage" explains scientific assistant Dr. Kristina Lachmann. "Inside them, for a brief period, plasma is created, i.e. a luminescent, ionized gas, which chemically alters the plastic surface". During this process the bag remains sterile as plasmas also have a disinfecting action. "The advantage of the process is that it operates at atmospheric pressure and is therefore cost-effective, fast and flexible" emphasizes group leader Dr. Michael
|Contact: Dr. Michael Thomas |