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Skeletal Stem Cells Enhanced for Bone Repair

Skull X-ray

(Daniel Alvarez, Pixabay)

21 Sept. 2020. Researchers in the U.K. created a bandage with enhanced human skeletal stem cells that in lab mice repairs simulated skull defects. A team from Kings College London describes its process in today’s issue of the journal Nature Materials (paid subscription required).

Kings College regenerative medicine researcher Shukry Habib and lab colleagues study stem cells for developing new cells and tissue, particularly signals inducing greater and more reliable production of new cells. A main focus of the lab is signals from Wnt proteins that regulate proliferation of cells, in early development and later in tissue growth and maintenance. Wnt proteins act locally, affecting only neighboring cells. Growing new cells and tissue from stem cells can be slow and unreliable, due to the fragility and short shelf life of stem cells. Thus the Habib lab studies ways of harnessing Wnt signaling to improve stem cells’ value to tissue repair,

In their paper, Habib and colleagues created and tested a stem cell bandage for bone repair, known as a Wnt-induced osteogenic tissue model, or Wiotm. The Wiotm is grown from human skeletal stem cells and collagen cells with Wnt signals to encourage new cell growth, yet still direct that growth into a three-dimensional structure for practical bone transplant and repair.

The researchers tested the Wiotm, grown in the lab in about a week, in a lab mouse induced with skull defects. The team says the transplanted Wiotm helped form new skull bone tissue consisting of both human and mouse cells that remained viable for eight weeks. The researchers say the Wiotm can be sealed to prevent unwanted leakage, or can be formulated into biodegradable bandage that’s absorbed by the recipient.

Kings College applied for a patent on a tissue regeneration patch that includes the Wiotm technology. The Habib lab is also preparing for eventual clinical trials with the Wiotm bandage.

“Our technology,” says Habib in a Kings College statement, “is the first to engineer a bone-like tissue from human bone stem cells in the lab within one week, and successfully transplant it in the bone defect to initiate and accelerate bone repair. The concept of the 3D-engineered tissue and the bandage has the potential to be developed to different injured tissues and organs.”

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