Bioactive agents, such as synthetic drugs, proteins, and cells, can be encapsulated in biocompatible microcarriers for a variety of biological applications (drug delivery, tissue engineering, immunoisolation of cells, etc.). Ideally, the microcarriers are “tailor-made” for the intended application. Unfortunately, conventional approaches to the synthesis of particles and capsules for practical microcarrier applications have achieved little success in efficiently controlling critical parameters such as particle size, shape, functionality, and encapsulation efficiency.
However, recent progress in microfluidics, lithography, micromolding and several other techniques have led to microcarrier designs that allow efficient encapsulation of bioactive agents in order to enable the on-demand release or functionalization of encapsulants. Researchers Tae Soup Shim, Shin-Hyun Kim, and Seung-Man Yang review recent developments and advances in microcarrier design strategies. The authors distinguish three main microcarrier categories: particle-type, capsule-type, and foldable.
For all three microcarrier types, synthetic routes for fabricating these microcarriers and their application are discussed. In addition, the microcarriers are evaluated by comparing them with alternative/conventional approaches. The authors also shortly discuss future perspectives and potential developments in this field in a paper in Particle & Particle Systems Characterization.