MA German research team discovered a new method to transform stem cells into bone cells. Use of distinctly-programmed materials, under controlled conditions, could help in initiating this transformation. Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht led this research under the Centre for Materials and Coastal Research. The scientists used a shape-memory polymer for conducting specialised stem cell research.
Stem cells possess the ability to convert into several types of cells such as cartilage, bone, and muscle cells. These cells sense and analyse their immediate environment, and start reacting accordingly. Meanwhile, change of cell environment to cause differentiation of cell properties is not a new concept. Scientists are already using this technique in tissue engineering in order to restore damaged biological tissues.
The findings of the research were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
Analyzing Artificial Muscles
The researchers use static scaffolds to conduct the research involving stem cells. The research involved Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG), the Helmholtz Virtual Institute for Multifunctional Biomaterials, and the Freien Universität Berlin in medicine. The researchers developed an artificial muscle with the help of a polymer sheet. Furthermore, the changing temperatures could reversibly morph the sheet. The changing patterns of the gridded sheet resulted in seeding of the sheet with stem cells. The artificial muscle could, therefore, send signals to stem cells due to changes in temperature.
Accelerating Bone Recovery
Meanwhile, polymer sheets can come in handy in repairing bones. These sheets can even expedite the recovery of bones that the body cannot heal on its own. Stem cells from the bone marrow can be laid on an adaptive patch that wraps around the bones. It would be interesting to see the reaction of osteopaths to this research.