This issue of the Stem Cell Reports journal features the exciting release that new hydrogel encapsulated stem cell applications have been discovered.
Professors Molly Shoicher and Derek van der Kooy, as well as Professor Cindi Morsehead of the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Center for Cellular and Biomolecular Research conducted a new research on encapsulated stem cells tested on mice.
Professor Molly Schoicher is the frontrunner of this research. Until recently, stem cells were successfully harnessed in laboratory dishes. The problems occurred at their transplantation in the targeted area where they encounter issues with adapting to the new environment and sticking together.
Molly Schoicher – a bioengineer, has created a new environment for the cells to thrive. This protective environment is a hydrogel composed of methylcellulose that offers the necessary safety and hyaluronan which is responsible for keeping stem cells alive.
Based on this previous awarded development, the new University of Toronto research team injected encapsulated stem cells in the eyes of blind mice and in the brains of mice that had suffered a stroke.
The most significant application of stem cells springs from their ability to replace any other cells in the body, thus creating replacement tissue or nervous system, as well as full-fledged organs. In the case of the mice that were used in the tests, the results were nothing short of astonishing.
The hydrogel encapsulated stem cells were reported to speed up the healing process in both mice categories. Photoreceptors inserted in the blind mice eyes yielded a result of 15 percent pupillary response restoration. Photoreceptors are responsible for vision in the eye. The results signal great news for cell adaptation and their integration in new environments provided they are introduced in the hydrogel.
In the case of mice who had suffered a stroke, the same hydrogel encapsulated stem cells yielded in only a matter of weeks increased motor coordination.
Taken together, the two sets of tests conducted on mice present the scientific community with an array of potential for the use of stem cells in therapeutic applications. With a new environment that keeps them together and alive, increasing the chances of adaptation in the implementation area, a bright future awaits the medical community.
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