According to scientists specializing in adult stem cell research, a new plastic surface that overcomes the problems associated with the growth of adult stem cells has been created. The standard surfaces that have been used in the past limit the possibilities of successfully growing large amounts of adult stem cells because it proved difficult to do so and retain the useful characteristics of the stem cells.
Researchers have high hopes that this recent discovery in adult stem cell research will lead to the development of stem cell therapies for the regrowth of tissue and bone, as well as for a number of other conditions such as arthritis.
This groundbreaking study was conducted by Glasgow and Southampton universities. The new surface, which is referred to as “nano-patterned”, was developed through the use of a manufacturing process that is similar to the process used to create Blu-ray discs. The new plastic surface features tiny pits that researches say make it much more effective in the growth and spreading into valuable cells that can be used for stem cell therapy.
Presently, harvested stem cells from the patient or a donor are cultured in a lab in order to increase the number of cells, creating a batch of stem cells that are sufficient in volume to promote the cellular regeneration process. Then the cells are injected back into the patient.
Scientists working on adult stem cell research say that the culturing process is difficult due to the fact that stem cells that are grown on the standard plastic culture surface fail to expand and create new stem cells. Instead, the cells create other types of cells that cannot be used for stem cell therapy.
By immersing the stem cells in chemical solutions, the expansion of the cells can be boosted. However, the researchers claim that such methods are limited in effectiveness.
Dr. Matthew Dalby of the University of Glasgow, who lead the study alongside Dr. Nikolaj Gadegaard and Professor Richard Oreffo from the University of Southampton, said “This new nano-structured surface can be used to very effectively culture mesencyhmal stem cells, taken from sources such as bone marrow, which can then be put to use in musculoskeletal, orthopedic and connective tissues.”
Dr. Dalby also said, “If the same process can be used to culture other types of stem cells too – and this research is under way in our labs – our technology could be the first step on the road to developing large-scale stem cell culture factories, which would allow for the creation of a wide range of therapies for many common diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”
According to Professor Oreffo, “It is important to realize the ability to retain skeletal stem cell phenotype using surface topography offers a step change in current approaches for stem cell biology.”
This adult stem cell research was funded by the University of Glasgow and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.