Monday, 11 February 2013

Cheap plastic materials and embryonic stem cells for bone regeneration

Researchers from the University of Southampton and in collaboration with the University of Glasgow just announced a new method for generating bone cells from human embryonic stem cells. The study has implications for people in need of hip replacement due to osteoporosis and/or osteoarthritis and for people with severe bone loss due to trauma or disease. It should be noted that this is the second study coming from the same university in the field of bone regeneration, in less than a week. You can read more about the other study here.

During the study the researchers, led by Emmajayne Kingham, grafted human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) on the surface of bioabsorbable plastic materials and examined their ability to differentiate. In 2011, the same researchers had successfully used plastic materials with embossed nanopatterns for culturing and replicating mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). In this study, they have taken their previous findings one step further and managed to both culture and differentiate hESCs into bone-forming cells, by using nanotopographical patterns.

Among others, the researchers managed to succesfuly culture and expand hESCS in a cheap type of plastic commonly used for manufacturing CDs and bullet proof windows, thus presenting a new promising and cheap alternative for culturing hESCs in vitro.

Picture of an embryonic stem cell colony
Embryonic stem cells

Richard Oreffo, one of the study's chief authors, said that growing and generating new bone cells for regenerative and medical purposes is "a significant challenge", adding that the knowledge to harness surface technologies can be used to develop bone cells from hESCs

Oreffo believes that their findings may reshape the field of skeletal regenerative medicine as the use of nanotopographical patterns could lead in new types of culture designs, new device designs and ultimately novel bone regeneration treatments involving human embryonic stem cells.

Nikolaj Gadegaard from the University of Glasgow says that in their 2011 study they had found some really exciting new methods for controlling mesenchymal stem cells and made the following comment:

"This new Southampton-led discovery shows a totally different stem cell source, embryonic, also respond in a similar manner and this really starts to open this new field of discovery up."

He believes that the study is of great significance and with further research it could ultimately lead to new innovative treatments for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

Picture of a mesenchymal stem cell
Mesenchymal stem cell

Kingham, E., White, K., Gadegaard, N., Dalby, M., & Oreffo, R. (2013). Nanotopographical Cues Augment Mesenchymal Differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells Small DOI: 10.1002/smll.201202340

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