Biomimetic Rebuilding of Multifunctional Red Blood Cells: Modular Design Using Functional Components

Jimin Guo, Jacob Ongudi Agola, Rita Serda, Stefan Franco, Qi Lei, Lu Wang, Joshua Minster, Jonas G. Croissant, Kimberly S. Butler, Wei Zhu, C. Jeffrey Brinker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The design and synthesis of artificial materials that mimic the structures, mechanical properties, and ultimately functionalities of biological cells remains a current holy grail of materials science. Here, based on a silica cell bioreplication approach, we report the design and construction of synthetic rebuilt red blood cells (RRBCs) that fully mimic the broad properties of native RBCs: Size, biconcave shape, deformability, oxygen-carrying capacity, and long circulation time. Four successive nanoscale processing steps (RBC bioreplication, layer-by-layer polymer deposition, and precision silica etching, followed by RBC ghost membrane vesicle fusion) are employed for RRBC construction. A panel of physicochemical analyses including zeta-potential measurement, fluorescence microscopy, and antibody-mediated agglutination assay proved the recapitulation of RBC shape, size, and membrane structure. Flow-based deformation studies carried out in a microfluidic blood capillary model confirmed the ability of RRBCs to deform and pass through small slits and reconstitute themselves in a manner comparable to native RBCs. Circulation studies of RRBCs conducted ex ovo in a chick embryo and in vivo in a mouse model demonstrated the requirement of both deformability and native cell membrane surface to achieve long-term circulation. To confer additional non-native functionalities to RRBCs, we developed modular procedures with which to load functional cargos such as hemoglobin, drugs, magnetic nanoparticles, and ATP biosensors within the RRBC interior to enable various functions, including oxygen delivery, therapeutic drug delivery, magnetic manipulation, and toxin biosensing and detection. Taken together, RRBCs represent a class of long-circulating RBC-inspired artificial hybrid materials with a broad range of potential applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7847-7859
Number of pages13
JournalACS Nano
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 28 2020


  • bioapplications
  • biomimicry
  • drug carrier
  • multifunction
  • red blood cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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