EVANSTON, Ill., June 24 (UPI) — U.S. scientists say they have developed a new method of effectively delivering stem cells, proteins and large molecules to damaged tissues.
Medical investigators say a big question in regenerative medicine has been how to most effectively deliver beneficial cells to damaged tissues such as in the spinal cord, heart and brain.
A Northwestern University team says it’s the first to demonstrate a method that delivers cells in the same alignment as the cells found in the tissues, which could hasten new growth and healing.
The researchers, led by Professor Samuel Stupp, said they produced centimeter-long gel “strings” of nanofibers containing living cells aligned in linear fashion. The scientists said the strings of cells — which are flexible, biodegradable and can be made into different lengths and widths — could be surgically placed on damaged tissue, where they would adhere naturally.
“We have discovered how to align nanoscale filaments with the human hand over long distances, producing a scaffold which we can populate with cells, proteins or other large molecules,” Stupp said. “It is a highly directional delivery, which increases the chances of successful regeneration. We are matching the morphology of natural tissues.”
The study that included co-author Professor Olvera de la Cruz and researchers Shuming Zhang, Megan Greenfield, Alvaro Mata, Liam Palmer, Ronit Bitton, Jason Mantei and Conrado Aparicio appears in the July issue of the journal Nature Materials.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.