University of Southampton researchers have provided insight on the ability of clay particles to bind biological molecules and stimulate the stem cell regeneration process to repair damaged tissue and bone.
“We’re interested in repairing bone [that] has been damaged as a consequence of disease or old age, and we’re interested in using the body’s own bone stem cells,” Richard Oreffo, BSc, DPhil, professor of musculoskeletal science in the faculty of medicine at the University of Southampton, told Orthopedics Today. “There are conditions where the hip and hip bone can become damaged, and we have shown the ability to take bone graft and combine this with the patient’s own bone stem cell. Once reintroduced to the damaged site, it allows for new bone formation.”
Oreffo and colleagues have utilized a range of materials, including clay gels and synthetic polymer materials, to deliver and hold stem cells at the right location in the body, reducing the need for surgery. However, the researchers also needed to find a way to control bone stem cell behavior at the site of the injury until regeneration was complete. By using clay gels to hold proteins and other signaling molecules the researchers hope to provide stem cells with tailor-made micro-environments that foster bone regeneration in the body.
“The carefully controlled provision of key biological signaling molecules is essential to directing the activity of stem cells. However, conventional injectable gel materials are often poor at retaining these biological signals at the site of injury — they can hold and deliver cells, but the molecules that stimulate the cells diffuse away when placed in the body,” Jon Dawson, PhD, of the faculty of medicine at the University of Southampton, said in a press release. “The ability of clay nanoparticles to bind biological molecules presents a unique opportunity to control the local environment at a site of injury or disease to stimulate and control stem cell-driven repair.” -by Casey Tingle
Disclosure: This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Center, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Center and the Medical Research Council.