Cell-in-a-Box® Live Cell Encapsulation Nanotechnology

What is Cell-in-a-Box® Technology?

he Cell-in-a-Box® technology from Austrianova enables one to encapsulate cells in a protective, semipermeable, cellulose based 2 mm bead. Small pores in the beads allow for nutrient and waste product exchange, but retain the cells within the beads. The beads are durable, do not elicit an immune response from the host and can withstand up to 6 months in an in vivo implant. These characteristics allow embedded cells to grow for longer periods than in traditional 2D cell culture.

Cell-in-a-Box® Publications

Video: Use of Cell-in-a-Box® Technology in Cellular Therapies

What is Cell-in-a-Box® Technology

How Does Cell-in-a-Box® Work?

To bring this technology to a wider research audience, we have worked with Austrianova to develop the Cell-in-a-Box® Kit (CIB001). This kit allows researchers to quickly and easily encapsulate their own cells for further study. The steps required in the kit are simple and straightforward. Additionally, The Cell-in-a-Box® Decapsulation Solution (CIB002) is a cell-friendly reagent that gently dissolves the membrane of porous bead capsules generated with the CIB001 kit, allowing the user to recover and harvest the encapsulated cells for further downstream analysis and processing, such as cell counting, DNA extraction, and fluorescence imaging.

Cell encapsulation protocol

Figure 1.Cell encapsulation protocol. Live cells can be encapsulated in the Cell-in-a-Box® cellulose beads using a simple 3-step process

Cell-in-a-Box® encapsulation of cells

Figure 2.Cell-in-a-Box® encapsulation of cells. left: empty capsules; middle: capsule with cells inside directly after encapsulation; right: capsules after culturing for days or weeks (depending on cell growth speed).

Time course of Cell-in-a-Box® decapsulation

Figure 3.Time course of Cell-in-a-Box® decapsulation. Left to right – Images showing encapsulated cells at the start of decapsulation, incomplete decapsulation and complete decapsulation stages respectively.

Proven Applications

With over 40 peer reviewed publications the Cell-in-a-Box technology has shown great promise in the areas of cancer, diabetes and drug delivery research1-7. For example, in cases of localized cancerous tumors it is desirable to deliver localized treatment. To affect a localized treatment for pancreatic cancer, Cell-in-a-Box encapsulated cells were placed, using selective catheterization, into blood vessels leading to the tumor1. These cells locally converted a chemotherapeutic prodrug to its tumor toxic form. This treatment improved the 1-year survival rate from 11% to 36%. This localized treatment research is ongoing and may result in significant improvements in the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

In diabetes research there have been attempts to implant islet of Langerhans cells into diabetic hosts, an approach that leads to problems suppressing the resulting graft vs. host reaction. Cell-in-a-Box encapsulated cells are protected from graft vs. host reactions and a number of experiments have been undertaken to prove the efficacy of the technology. Encapsulated islets of Langerhans cells were shown to react to changes in glucose levels in the environment and excrete insulin to the environment2. In subsequent experiments, implanted islet cells from pigs were show to control blood glucose levels in the rats for over 6 months3.

Potential Applications

The Cell-in-a-Box Kit is designed to encapsulate your cell of choice in cellulose beads for superior and extended growth levels, providing a protective growth environment for cells. Because of this, the potential applications for this kit in research are extensive; this kit opens up opportunities for unique analyses of how host environments and your cells interact, both in vitro and in vivo. An example of an in vitro application for this kit is in bioreactors. Encapsulated cells are insulated from destructive shear forces found in bioreactors, allowing for the expression of antibodies and recombinant proteins for longer periods of time, improving productivity.

Whatever the intended application, these are the key properties to keep in mind.

Key Properties

  • Cellulose-based
  • Durable (can last for years in vivo)
  • Artificial and semipermeable
  • Biocompatible
  • Useful for a wide variety of cell types
  • Longer cell survival periods
  • Encapsulated cells can be frozen and stored

The Cell-in-a-Box Kit is designed to simply and reproducibly encapsulate a wide variety of cells for further study. As has been discussed, there are already several proven applications for this technology, and we are confident that as this kit is used by more researchers that many additional novel applications for this technology will arise.

This product is for R&D use only, not for drug, household, or other uses. Please consult the Safety Data Sheet for information regarding hazards and safe handling practices.



Löhr M, Hoffmeyer A, Kröger J, Freund M, Hain J, Holle A, Karle P, Knöfel WT, Liebe S, Müller P, et al. 2001. Microencapsulated cell-mediated treatment of inoperable pancreatic carcinoma. The Lancet. 357(9268):1591-1592. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/s0140-6736(00)04749-8
Stadlbauer V, Stiegler PB, Schaffellner S, Hauser O, Halwachs G, Iberer F, Tscheliessnigg KH, Lackner C. 2006. Morphological and functional characterization of a pancreatic beta-cell line microencapsulated in sodium cellulose sulfate/poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride). Xenotransplantation. 13(4):337-344. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1399-3089.2006.00315.x
Stiegler P, Stadlbauer V, Hackl F, Iberer F, Lackner C, Hauser O, Schaffellner s, Strunk D, Tscheliessnigg K. 2009. Xenotransplantation of NaCS microencapsulated porcine islet cells in diabetic rats.. Organ Biology. 16(1):104.
Salmons B, Brandtner E, Hettrich K, Wagenknecht W, Volkert B, Fischer S, Dangerfield J, Gunzburg W. 2010. Encapsulated cells to focus the metabolic activation of anti-cancer drugs.. Current Opinion in Molecular Therapeutics.. 12(4):450-460.
Chua A, Brandtner E, Dangerfield J, Salmons B, Gunzburg W, Ng M. 2010. A novel cell encapsulation mode for delivery of therapeutic antibodies against West Nile Virus infections that maintains steady plasma antibody levels throughout therapy. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 14e48. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2010.02.1595
Salmons B, Dangerfield J, Brandtner E, Toa P, Tan W J, Gunzburg W. 2010. A method for protecting therapeutic cells and microenvironment containment in patients for gene and cell therapies: a clinically proven enabling cell encapsulation technology.. Human Gene Therapy.. 211476-1477.
Salmons B, Gunzburg WH. 2010. Therapeutic Application of Cell Microencapsulation in Cancer.92-103. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5786-3_9