Liquid biomaterials take stem cell therapy to new level

Mar 17, 2011

At present, cartilage implants created using stem cells can only be constructed as a solid shape, acting as an interim measure before the almost inevitable need for total joint replacement.

Now researchers at the University of Bristol are investigating the possibilities of a biologically-engineered synthetic liquid polymer that would eliminate the need for further surgery by offering a one stop, permanent solution.

Dr Wael Kafienah, from Bristol's School of Medical Sciences, believes this research could represent the next breakthrough in . He and his team are collaborating with researchers in Canada and Qatar to explore how such a could be created. Dr Kafienah, the lead Principal Investigator for Bristol, has been funded by the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRP), with approximately $1 million over a period of three years to conduct the initial research. The QNRP has an international annual cycle of highly competitive, peer-reviewed, collaborative funding.

If the research proves successful, clinical trials could be carried out within five years.

Initial research shows that an injectable gel would have the capacity to form three-dimensional scaffolds that could be moulded to assume the solid form of even an irregularly shaped defected area, resulting in the formation of new tissue that would fully fill the defect at the point of delivery and encourage the growth of healthy cells.

A gel-based biomaterial could also be used for , where stem cells injected into the body would stimulate the immune system to destroy the tumour by providing a source of gene therapies or therapeutic vaccines. Injecting these stem cells in the form of a gel would allow clinicians to target the through a prolonged, controlled release of the required, with obvious benefits to the patient as there would be fewer courses of treatment.

Dr Kafienah said: "The versatility of injectable polymers and stem cells opens up endless opportunities for cell-based therapies. For instance, the polymer-cell constructs can be used to create implants that can grow at the defect site without the need for the expensive process of growing the tissue in the lab before hand. The technology can also aid bone fracture repair where the presence of stem cells is shown to enhance bone repair capacity but require a flexible vehicle to sustain their delivery. There is a rapidly expanding area of regenerative medicine that is hugely dependent on injectable biomaterials. The novel biomaterials we are working on would be ideal for this, given what we anticipate to be their superior mechanical properties and cell guiding chemistry."

The research builds on the advances already made by Bristol's team of stem cell and tissue engineering experts in creating cartilage from adult human bone marrow , coupled with the work of researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada and Qatar University in creating novel injectable biomaterials for cartilage tissue engineering.

Explore further: Study finds enzyme inhibitors suppress herpes simplex virus replication

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Bone formation from embryonic stem cells

Oct 22, 2009

Jojanneke Jukes of the University of Twente, The Netherlands, has succeeded in growing bone tissue with the help of embryonic stem cells for the first time.

Stem cell research to benefit horse owners and trainers

Oct 21, 2008

In a potential breakthrough for the performance horse industry (such as racing and polo), Melbourne scientists are aiming to harness stem cells to repair tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone damage in horses.

Embryonic stem cells used to grow cartilage

Sep 06, 2007

Rice University biomedical engineers have developed a new technique for growing cartilage from human embryonic stem cells, a method that could be used to grow replacement cartilage for the surgical repair of knee, jaw, hip, ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

mmr38
not rated yet Mar 28, 2011
This is amazing... But how can you insure that the gel remains stationary at its intended site? What's to prevent it from moving?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.