Dec. 14, 2010
Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute have developed biological sutures that could be used to sew adult stem cells into various parts of the body, including heart muscle. The technique used biopolymer microthreads made of fibrin, a type of protein that forms in clots; the fibrin microthreads can be engineered with various tensile strengths and seeded with adult stem cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow.
In a paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials, the team showed that the adult mesenchymal stem cells would grow on the microthreads and still maintain their ability to differentiate into various cell types.
Studies by senior author Dr. Glenn Gaudette as well as others have shown that mesenchymal stem cells can improve cardiac function, but that it is a challenge to deliver sufficient numbers of the cells to the damaged heart tissue. Students at Johns Hopkins had previously embedded adult stem cells in regular surgical thread. One of Dr. Caugette's colleagues, Dr. George Pins, developed the special biopolymer microthread technology as a "scaffold" to attach cells for applications in wound healing and cellular therapy.
Dr. Gaudette said:
"This technology is developing into a potentially powerful system for delivering therapeutic cells right to where they are needed, whether that's a damaged heart or other tissues."
Sew there you have it, more potential uses of adult stem cells.