Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego have achieved the "Triple Crown" of stem cell culture they created an artificial environment for stem cells that simultaneously provides the chemical, mechanical and electrical cues necessary for stem cell growth and differentiation. Building better microenvironments for nurturing stem cells is critical for realizing the promises of stem-cell-based regenerative medicine, including cartilage for joint repair, cardiac cells for damaged hearts, and healthy skeletal myoblasts for muscular dystrophy patients. The advance could also lead to better model systems for fundamental stem cell research.
This work appears in a paper published online in Advanced Functional Materials on November 13.
While researchers have already created artificial environments for stem cells that provide chemical cues combined with either mechanical or electrical cues, the UC San Diego bioengineers say this is the first material reported in the scientific literature, to the best of their knowledge, that simultaneously provides all three cues to stem cells in a three dimensional supportive environment. Remarkably, the development of the new material was led entirely by bioengineering undergraduate students at UC San Diego.
In nature, stem cells communicate with other cells and with the extracellular matrix through chemical, electrical, and mechanical cues. "We mimicked all these cues that the native environment provides to the cells. This work is therefore fundamental to creating more life-like environments for stem cells in order to steer stem cells toward specific cell types such as chondrocytes, osteoblasts, myoblasts or cardiomyocytes," said Shyni Varghese, the bioengineering professor who advised the student researchers working in her Biomimetic Polymers and Stem Cell Engineering laboratory at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.
Realistic in vitro microenvironments for stem
|Contact: Daniel Kane|
University of California - San Diego