The 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 implant. These characteristics allow embedded cells to grow for longer periods than in traditional 2D cell culture. This technology has already been used successfully in novel research and clinical applications covered in over 40 international peer reviewed publications. 

To bring this technology to a wider research audience, we worked with Austrianova to develop the Cell-in-a-Box Kit (Catalog No. 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.


The result of this simple procedure can be seen below.

Encapsulated 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).

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 supraselective catheterisation, 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.




  1. Löhr M, Hoffmeyer A, Kröger J, Freund M, Hain J, Holle A, Karle P, Knöfel WT, Liebe S, Müller P, Nizze H, Renner M, Saller RM, Wagner T, Hauenstein K, Günzburg WH, Salmons B. Lancet. Microencapsulated cell-mediated treatment of inoperable pancreatic carcinoma.  (2001) May 19;357(9268):1591-2.
  2. Stadlbauer, V., Stiegler, P.B., Schaffellner, S., Hauser, O., Halwachs, G., Iberer, F., Tscheliessnigg, K.H. and Lackner, C. (2006) Morphological and functional characterization of a pancreatic beta-cell line microencapsulated in sodium cellulose sulfate/poly(diallyldimethylammonium chloride). Xenotransplantation 13, 337-344.
  3. Stiegler, P., Stadlbauer, V., Hackl, F., Iberer F., Lackner, C., Hauser, O., Schaffellner, S., Strunk, D., Tscheliessnigg, K.H. (2009) Xenotransplantation of NaCS microencapsulated porcine islet cells in diabetic rats. Organ Biology, 16(1) : 104.
  4. Salmons, B., Brandtner, E.M., Hettrich, K. Wagenknecht, W., Volkert, B., Fischer, S., Dangerfield, J.A. and Gunzburg,W.H. (2010) Encapsulated cells to focus the metabolic activation of anti-cancer drugs. Current Opinion in Molecular Therapeutics 12(4):450-60.
  5. Chua, A.J.S., Brandtner, E.M., Dangerfield, J.A., Salmons, B., Gunzburg, W.H. and Ng, M.L. (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 Congress on Infectious Diseases (ICID): Abstract 24.010. doi:10.1016/jijid.2010.02.
  6. Salmons, B., Dangerfield, J.A., Brandtner, E.M., Toa, P., Tan, W Jin and Gunzburg, W.H. (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 21 1476-1477.
  7. Salmons, B. and Gunzburg, W.H. (2010) Therapeutic application of cell microencapsulation in cancer. Advances in Experimental Medicine and biology 670, 92-103.


Cell-in-a-Box is a registered trademark of AUSTRIANOVA Singapore Pte Ltd.

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