In regenerative medicine, an ideal treatment for patients whose muscles are damaged from lack of oxygen would be to invigorate them with an injection of their own stem cells.
In a new study published in the journal ACS Nano, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated that “nanostimulators” – nanoparticles seeded with a molecule the body naturally produces to prompt stem cells to heal wounds – can amp up stem cells’ regenerative powers in a targeted limb in mice.
After a primary tumor is treated, cancer stem cells may still lurk in the body, ready to metastasize and cause a recurrence of the cancer in a form that’s more aggressive and resistant to treatment. University of Illinois researchers have developed a molecular probe that seeks out these elusive cells and lights them up so they can be identified, tracked and studied not only in cell cultures, but in their native environment: the body.
The recent discovery that human somatic cells (the cells of the body) can be reprogrammed in the laboratory to generate pluripotent stem cells has enormous implications for regenerative medicine, a relatively young branch of biomedical research that could lead to revolutionary treatments for many chronic diseases, including cancer.
The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.
University of Illinois researchers, in collaboration with scientists at Notre Dame University and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, published their results in the journal Nature Communications.
Hyunjoon Kong, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and member of the Regenerative Biology and Tissue Engineering research theme, with Chemistry Professor Steve Zimmerman and Professor and Vice President for Research Dr. Larry Schook are developing a polymer coating that could help an individual's stem cells target inflamed cells to regrow healthy tissue and calm inflammation. Their research has been published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.