The University of Toronto’s Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research released the results of a new stem cells focused study.
The findings were published in the Stem Cell Reports scientific journal.
Professors Molly Shoicher and Derek van der Kooy, along Professor Cindi Morsehead encapsulated stem cells in hydrogel and transplanted them in the eyes and brains of mice suffering either from blindness or strokes.
The results were astonishing. The transplanted stem cells were able to speed up healing processes in both the eye and the brain of the mice, promising to take stem cell science one step further. New therapies for repairing brain damage might spring from the efforts of the University of Toronto team.
Professor Molly Shoichet is a bioengineer who has previously created hydrogel as an environment for safe transport and transplant of stem cells. These are known to have significant value for medical science, but once taken out of the lab dish where they are grown, they encounter difficulties in adpating to the new environment where they are inserted. Often, these difficulties result in the death of stem cells which have the ability to generate both replacement tissue, as well as organs.
Schoichet’s creation keeps the stem cells together and increases the success of their therapeutic applications.
„I always think that in engineering our raison d’etre is to advance knowledge towards translation”,
the professor commented.
The material that her team developed is composed of methylcellulose that forms the safe environment and hyaluronan that keep the stem cells alive.
In the recently conducted study, the encapsulated stem cells were injected in the eyes of blind mice to asses their potential in healing therapies. Photoreceptors were, responsible for vision were transplanted in the eyes of mice and the result was that vision was partially restored. More precise, 15 percent of the pupillary response was restored, which entails great news for cell survival and integration.
Another set of analysis was conducted on mice that had suffered a stroke. After injecting the same encapsulated cells in their brains, the team observed quick recovery. Within weeks of the injection, visible improvments could be noticed in motor coordination of the mice.
Taken one step further, the new succesful applications of stem cells could bring a better future for therapeutic application, with now increased chance of survival of the hydrogel encapsulated cells.
Image Source: stemcellcite.com