Several Sector Companies are working in Mesenchymal stem cells. In fact, Prochymal by Osiris Therapeutics will probably be the first stem cell therapeutic application to gain FDA approval.
Recentlyl, engineers at the University of California at San Diego have come up with a way to help accelerate bone growth through the use of nanotubes and mesenchymal stem cells, a finding that could lead to quicker and better recovery for patients who undergo orthopedic surgery.
UC San Diego bioengineers and material science experts used a nano-bio technology method of placing mesenchymal stem cells on top of very thin titanium oxide nanotubes in order to control the conversion paths, called differentiation, into osteoblasts or bone building cells.
“If you break your knee or leg from skiing, for example, an orthopedic surgeon will implant a titanium rod, and you will be on crutches for about three months,” said Sungho Jin, co-author of the PNAS paper and a materials science professor at the Jacobs School of Engineering. “But what we anticipate through our research is that if the surgeon uses titanium oxide nanotubes with stem cells, the bone healing could be accelerated and a patient may be able to walk in one month instead of being on crunches for three months.
“Our in-vitro and in-vivo data indicate that such advantages can occur by using the titanium oxide nanotube treated implants, which can reduce the loosening of bones, one of the major orthopedic problems that necessitate re-surgery operations for hip and other implants for patients,” Jin added. “Such a major re-surgery, especially for older people, is a health risk and significant inconvenience, and is also undesirable from the cost point of view.”
This is the first study of its kind using stem cells attached to titanium oxide nanotube implants. Jin and his research team report that the precise change in nanotube diameter can be controlled to induce selective differentiation of stem cells into osteoblast (bone-forming) cells.
According to this breakthrough research, nanotubes with a larger diameter cause cells growing on their surface to elongate much more than those with a small diameter. The larger diameter nanotube promotes quicker and stronger bone growth. “The use of nano topography to induce preferred differentiation was reported in recent years by other groups, but such studies were done mostly on polymer surfaces, which are not desirable orthopedic implant materials,” Jin said.
It is common for physicians and surgeons to use chemicals for stem cell implants in order to control cell differentiation, a conversion into a certain desired type of cells, for example, to neural cells, heart cells, and bone cells. However, introducing chemicals into the human body can sometimes have undesirable side effects. “What we have accomplished here is a way to introduce desirable guided differentiation using only nanostructures instead of resorting to chemicals,” said doctoral student Seunghan (Brian) Oh.
Adapted from the University of California at San Diego announcement.