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Researchers Use Stem Cells And Remotely Controlled Magnetic Nanoparticles To Regenerate Bones

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Scientists in the UK have found a new way of stimulating stem cells to regenerate bone tissue. The method could improve treatment for sufferers of bone trauma, disease or conditions such as osteoporosis.

Medical researchers from Keele University and Nottingham University found that magnetic nanoparticles coated with targeting proteins can stimulate stem cells to regenerate bone. According to a report by Keele University, the researchers were also able to deliver the cells directly to the injured area by remotely controlling the nanoparticles to generate mechanical forces and maintain the regeneration process through staged releases of a protein growth stimulant.

At the moment, bone that can´t heal itself is repaired through a graft taken from the patient. However, this can be a painful, invasive procedure, and is not possible in every case. For example, when the area that needs repair is too large or the patient has a skeletal disorder there can sometimes be a lack of healthy bone for grafting.

That´s why medical researchers around the world are working on spurring the growth of new bone through injected stem cells.

Keele University pointed out that, although much progress has been made, there still remains the challenge of finding an appropriate means to stimulate the differentiation of the stem cells so they become the quality of bone tissue needed in a quantity large enough to treat patients effectively.

One of the scientists involved in the latest study, Dr. James Henstock, said that injectable therapies for regenerative medicine show great potential as they offer a minimally invasive way of introducing therapeutic stem cells, drug delivery vehicles and biomaterials efficiently to wound sites.

“In our investigation we coated magnetic nanoparticles with specific targeting proteins then controlled them remotely with an external magnetic field to simulate exercise. We wanted to learn how this might affect the injected stem cells and their ability to restore functional bone,” Dr. Henstock explained.

In tests using chicken foetal femurs and tissue-engineered collagen hydrogels, the new method achieved an increase in bone formation and density without causing any mechanical stress to the construct or surrounding tissue.

“This work demonstrates that providing the appropriate mechanical cues in conjunction with controlled release of growth factors to these injectable cell therapies can have a significant impact on improving bone growth. It also could potentially improve tissue engineering approaches for translational medicine,” Dr. Henstock concluded.

http://www.keele.ac.uk/pressreleases/2014/targettedmagneticnanoparticlesstimulatestemcellstoregeneratebones.html