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Spray-on stem cells for synthetic tissue?
26 January 2009
Stem cells can survive a cell-spraying technique with promise for tissue engineering, offering a potential route to unspecialised tissue for medical applications.
UK scientists Suwan Jayasinghe and co-workers at University College London have shown how mouse embryonic stem cells can be handled and precisely deposited without affecting their molecular structure.
Jayasinghe's team achieved this using bio-electrosprays, which jet a cell suspension from a conducting needle to a grounded electrode upon application of an electric field. The technique allows researchers to build biological microenvironments such as synthetic tissue at a higher resolution than other approaches.
Jayasinghe's results imply that embryonic stem cells retain their function after bioelectrospraying
Although bio-electrosprays have been used with other types of cells, this is the first time they have been used with embryonic stem cells. David Harris, an expert in stem cell research and gene therapy, based at the University of Arizona, Tucson, US, suggests that the approach has 'tremendous potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.' As the researchers found, the bio-electrospray process does not change the stem cells at a genetic level. Their results imply that the cells remain pluripotent, meaning that they have the potential to develop into a variety of cell types.
- David Harris
'The beauty of this technique as a therapeutic device,' says Jayasinghe, 'is that you could genetically alter the stem cells using gene therapy techniques and then build the tissue.' As well as being used for repair and replacement, the tissue could provide a therapeutic effect, he adds.
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Link to journal article
Bio-electrospraying embryonic stem cells: interrogating cellular viability and pluripotency
Anil Abeyewickreme, Albert Kwok, Jean R. McEwan and Suwan N. Jayasinghe, Integr. Biol., 2009, 1, 260
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