Scaffold protects the stem cells when implanted into living animals

Stem cell research is controversial, but has the potential to find cures and treatments for a myriad of diseases that are unaffected by current methods. Stem cells are being heavily researched and scientists at the University of Hong Kong and MIT have published a new study that outlines ways to keep stem cells young and viable.

The research paper outlines a method that promises to keep stem cells implanted in the body for treatment of various conditions "forever young." The new process can slow the growth of the stem cells and the differentiation and proliferation of the stem cells.

One of the paper authors, Dr. Ellis-Behnke said, "The successful storage and implantation of stem cells poses significant challenges for tissue engineering in the nervous system, challenges in addition to those inherent to neural regeneration. There is a need for creating an environment that can regulate cell activity by delaying cell proliferation, proliferation, and maturation. Nanoscaffolds can play a central role in organ regeneration as they act as templates and guides for cell proliferation, differentiation and tissue growth. It is also important to protect these fragile cells from the harsh environment in which they are transplanted."

New advancements in nanotech promise a new era in tissue and organ construction according to Dr. Ellis-Behnke. The researchers developed what they call a self-assembling nanofiber scaffold (SAPNS) used for implanting young cells.

The team used a scaffold that they created as a substrate for stem cell adhesion and migration. This helped the stem cells survive once implanted and helped prevent the invasion of cells from the surrounding tissue. The goal of the SAPNS is to slow the growth and differentiation of the implanted cells to give the cells time to acclimate to the new environment. The researchers have been able to use the technique to extend the life of cells implanted into the brain and spinal cord of living animals.

Ellis-Behnke said, "That delay is very important when the immune system tries attacking cells when they are placed in vivo."

Scientists and researchers have previously used stem cells to restore the vision in a damaged eye and students embedded stem cells into sutures to help promote the healing of tendons after repair.

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