APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Biochemical production
- Gene, protein, and drug delivery
- Vesicle-based sensors
- Construction of synthetic biological systems
- Robust, consistently unilamellar vesicles of uniform size and shape
- Unrestricted composition and molecular weight of vesicle contents
- High throughput/scalable production
- Functional membrane proteins may be incorporated
- Membrane composition and asymmetry can be controlled
Scientists at Berkeley Lab have developed a device that simultaneously creates and loads monodisperse, unilamellar vesicles using a pulsed microfluidic jet. The vesicles may be loaded with solutions of unrestricted composition and molecular weight, such as medications or nucleic acids, and their asymmetrical lipid membranes can incorporate functional pore proteins to mediate transport. This technology creates new opportunities for the use and study of compartmentalized biomolecular systems in science, industry, and medicine.
In a manner similar to blowing bubbles, the jet deforms a planar lipid bilayer into a vesicle that is filled with solution from the jet and then separates from the planar bilayer. In tests, the Berkeley Lab device was able to produce uniformly sized vesicles with diameters controlled over a range from 5 µm to 250 µm. Smaller diameters will also be possible with slight modifications to the device. The vesicles were robust, outlasting the observation time of several hours after formation. The scientists also demonstrated repeatable encapsulation of 500-nm particles into these vesicles and showed that functional pore proteins (e.g., alpha-hemolysin) could be incorporated into the membrane to mediate transport.
For various applications, the following properties are desirable in artificial vesicles: control over membrane unilamellarity and permeability, vesicle size, and internal solution concentration; high encapsulation efficiency to minimize the needed volume of jetted solution; high-throughput production; the capacity for observation of the vesicles and associated reactions immediately after loading; and a potential size greater than 10 µm in diameter to allow visualization by light microscopy. Existing methods for vesicle formation meet only some of these requirements; however, the Berkeley Lab invention is capable of achieving all of these objectives.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Bench scale prototype tested.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
Phototriggerable Microcapsules, JIB-2778
REFERENCE NUMBER: JIB-2847