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Liquid biomaterials take stem cell therapy to new level
Date:3/17/2011

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 stem cell therapy. He and his team are collaborating with researchers in Canada and Qatar to explore how such a biomaterial 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 immunotherapy, 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 tumour through a prolonged, controlled release of the therapeutic proteins required, with obvious benefits to the patient as there would be fewer courses of treatment.

Dr Kafienah said: "The ve
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Contact: Aliya Mughal
aliya.mughal@bristol.ac.uk
44-117-331-7033
University of Bristol
Source:Eurekalert

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