Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Scaffold made of silk and cellulose effective for cartilage regeneration

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a joint disease affecting more than 27 million people in the U. S, globally causing moderate to severe disability in more than 40 million people. In the past decade, stem cells have shown great promise in treating OA. Yesterday, researchers at the University of Bristol announced that they have created a 'smart material', composed of silk and cellulose, that according to them paves the wave for both affordable and effective cell based treatments for cartilage regeneration.

In this study, the researchers hypothesised that a scaffold made of cellulose and silk may trigger mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into becoming chondrocytes, the only type of cells found in healthy cartilage. Then, they prepared many blends with varying silk/cellulose compositions and seeded them with MSCs derived from four different patients to investigate this assumption. It was later found that a scaffold with cellulose and silk in a 75:25 ratio greatly increased chondrogenic activity, by inducing MSCs to become chondrocytes.

Image showing Chondrocytes

According to the study's findings, the 75:25 scaffold has two advantages:
  • It doesn't require the use of expensive growth factors, bringing the total costs down
  • Seeded MSCs turn exclusively into chondrocytes, as no adipogenic or osteogenic differentiation was detected

"We were surprised with this finding, the blend seems to provide complex chemical and mechanical cues that induce stem cell differentiation into preliminary form of chondrocytes without need for biochemical induction using expensive soluble differentiation factors. This new blend can cut the cost for health providers and makes progress towards effective cell-based therapy for cartilage repair a step closer." said one of the two chief authors, Dr Wael Kafienah

"The cellulose/silk blend we identified can be used both for in vitro tissue engineering and as an implantable device for stimulating endogenous stem cells to initiate cartilage repair." extract from the study

Singh, N., Rahatekar, S., Koziol, K., Ng, T., Patil, A., Mann, S., Hollander, A., & Kafienah, W. (2013). Directing Chondrogenesis of Stem Cells with Specific Blends of Cellulose and Silk Biomacromolecules DOI: 10.1021/bm301762p

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