3D-Printed Microrobotic Transporters with Recapitulated Stem Cell Niche for Programmable and Active Cell Delivery

Immihan Ceren Yasa, Ahmet Fatih Tabak, Oncay Yasa, Hakan Ceylan, Metin Sitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poor retention rate, low targeting accuracy, and spontaneous transformation of stem cells present major clinical barriers to the success of therapies based on stem cell transplantation. To improve the clinical outcome, efforts should focus on the active delivery of stem cells to the target tissue site within a controlled environment, increasing survival, and fate for effective tissue regeneration. Here, a remotely steerable microrobotic cell transporter is presented with a biophysically and biochemically recapitulated stem cell niche for directing stem cells towards a pre-destined cell lineage. The magnetically actuated double-helical cell microtransporters of 76 µm length and 20 µm inner cavity diameter are 3D printed where biological and mechanical information regarding the stem cell niche are encoded at the single-cell level. Cell-loaded microtransporters are mobilized inside confined microchannels along computer-controlled trajectories under rotating magnetic fields. The mesenchymal stem cells are shown retaining their differentiation capacities to commit to the osteogenic lineage when stimulated inside the microswimmers in vitro. Such a microrobotic approach has the potential to enable the development of active microcarriers with embedded functionalities for controlled and precisely localized therapeutic cell delivery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1808992
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 25 2019


  • 3D printing
  • cell delivery
  • magnetic actuation
  • microrobot
  • stem cell niche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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