A new biomaterial that enhances the ability of stem cells to regenerate into nerves and body parts has been developed by Australian and British scientists.
The work was a result of a joint study undertaken by the researchers at the Melbourne-based Monash University and UK-based University of Warwick.
Other biomedical “scaffold” materials, which act as templates for tissue regeneration, already exist but they cannot communicate effectively with the cells they are trying to influence.
The researchers have created a more advanced material that targets specific cells and provides clear signals to these cells to enhance regeneration.
Monash University researchers are shedding light on the complex processes that underpin the creation and differentiation of stem cells, bringing closer the promise of ‘miracle’ therapies.
Dr Jose Polo of the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) and the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology and his team, with collaborators at Harvard, have comprehensively mapped, for the first time, the process by which mature cells are re-programmed to become an induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell.
iPS cells behave almost exactly like embryonic stem cells – they can become any cell in the body – but come without the ethical and scientific pitfalls.
For people with incurable conditions, the uncertain promise of unproven treatments can outweigh the risks. As ‘stem cell tourism’ increases, one research team aims to ensure patients stay well informed – and connected to mainstream support networks.
When she was released from hospital three months after suffering a spinal injury, Natalie (not her real name) had to confront the prospect of spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair.
“I got out fairly depressed, couldn’t believe I was going to spend … life sitting in this chair, after having a fairly active life up until then, and also I was