Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Healing Clefts

A bioscaffold containing stem cells activates healing of cleft palates

12 August 2021

Healing Clefts

One in 700 babies in the UK have a cleft lip and palate – a gap in the upper lip and roof of the mouth, the palate. Currently, surgery can't fully bridge the gap in the palate. Tissue engineering may provide a solution through implanting bioscaffolds – scaffolds made from donor tissue with the donor cells removed and replaced with host cells in a process called recellularisation. Researchers now create a bioscaffold using the connective tissue that covers the hard palate in pigs. After the pig cells were removed, some bioscaffolds were perforated to create microscopic pores. The scaffolds were then recellularised with human mesenchymal stem cells. Scanning electron microscopy (pictured) revealed that the cells spread, layered up and matured. Notably in micro-perforated scaffolds, more bone-related genes were switched on in the stem cells. This approach therefore looks promising for treating cleft lips and palates.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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