Monday, 3 March 2014

Research shows how fat stem cells may pave the way for facial reconstruction

Image showing a child with lvl 3 microtia
Child with microtia
A new study by researchers at the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) shows that adipose (fat) derived stem cells may be a viable alternative to the currently used approaches for facial cartilage reconstruction, like ear and nose reconstruction.

GOSH already has a good track record of successfully treating patients born with a malformed or missing ear, a condition known as microtia. The two-stage ear reconstruction takes cartilage from the patient’s ribs and from this, a new scaffold is moulded and placed beneath the skin.

Both the clinical and cosmetic results of this procedure have been quite good. However, as Patrizia Ferretti, Head of Developmental Biology Unit at the ICH and her co-authors demonstrated in their study, the potential application of human stem cells and tissue engineering could further improve results and would obviate the need for this invasive part of the procedure, which leaves a permanent defect in the donor site.

 “We used stem cells harvested from the abdominal tissue of young patients affected by craniofacial conditions to explore, in our laboratories, how these might be used in future surgery. The use of stem cells from the paediatric patients themselves circumvents the issue of rejection and would overcome the need for immunosuppressive therapies.” explained Dr Ferretti.

The research indicates that combining human adipose stem cells with POSS-PCU bionano scaffolds can be of great value for several applications. In addition to ear and nose cartilage reconstruction, they could be used, for example, to improve the quality of tracheal transplants.

Scaffold cellularization in vivo (within the body) is a lengthy and uneven process. Hence POSS-PCU scaffolds pre-seeded with autologous hADSCs could help to improve stability, integration and functionality of engineered transplants while avoiding tissue rejection.

“It is such an exciting prospect with regard to the future treatment of these patients and many more. Currently I take the rib cartilage from the chest to make an ear but if we could produce a block of cartilage using stem cells and tissue engineering, this would be the Holy Grail for our field.” said Neil Bulstrode, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at GOSH and one of the paper's authors.
The research was carried out at the Newlife Birth Defects Research Centre (BDRC), which is based at the ICH. The study was also funded by the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.

- Guasti L, Vagaska B, Bulstrode NW, Seifalian AM, & Ferretti P (2014). Chondrogenic differentiation of adipose tissue-derived stem cells within nanocaged POSS-PCU scaffolds: A new tool for nanomedicine. Nanomedicine : nanotechnology, biology, and medicine, 10 (2), 279-89 PMID: 24008020

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