Nanoparticles promoting production of bone from stem cells
Able to self-replicate and give rise to different tissue types, stem cells are at the heart of many techniques in cutting-edge biomedical research, including personalised studies of disease and regenerative medicine. While obviously critical during development and growth, adults also possess some populations of stem cells, providing replacements for routine repairs. Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are adult stem cells that can produce multiple cell types, from bone and cartilage to fat and muscle. To encourage and direct this differentiation, researchers have recently developed nanoparticles (pictured, in green) with very specific properties, stable and porous; these are taken up by hMScs (in magenta) and induce them to form bone cells. When the nanoparticles are loaded with dexamethasone, a drug known to promote differentiation into bone, the effect is even stronger, suggesting that such techniques could be developed as a means of delivering drugs to guide the fate of hMSCs.
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