The cultivation of stem cells as a way to repair bone damage within the body has been long discussed by health professionals. Among the challenges is the fact that, once put in place, the stem cells can quickly wash away in the bloodstream. However, the application of materials science has helped University of Rochester biomedical engineer Danielle Benoit to successfully heal injured bones by using a specific stem cell safeguarding method, an article on the Singularity Hub website reports.
Benoit decided to place bone progenitor cells in a specially designed hydrogel wrapper with pores that are smaller than cells. The researcher wanted to make sure that the cells would be safeguarded by their wrapper and that fewer would be washed away. That way, they would be able to do more work on repairing the bone.
The results were promising, with the cells remaining in place and attaching to the bone after the hydrogel wrapper dissolved.
Because healing time varies depending on the bone tissue, Benoit showed that other hydrogels which dissolve at different rates all worked in the same way. If such wrappers work in a similar way in humans as they do in mice, it will enable doctors to place stem cells with much higher precision.
The major goal of the study was to find out whether the position of the hydrogels could be maintained for a controlled period of time, Benoit commented. The successful outcome of this research raises the possibility of many types of bone repair, including more complex bone injuries.