Researchers from the University of Hong Kong and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have published a study in the current issue of Cell Transplantation (18:9), now freely available on line at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct, that explores ways to successfully keep stem cells “forever young” during implantation by slowing their growth, differentiation and proliferation. … By manipulating both cell density and SAPNS concentration, the researchers were able to control the nanoenvironment surrounding PC 12 cells (a cell line developed from transplantable rat cells that respond to nerve growth factor), Schwann cells (glial cells that keep peripheral nerve fibers alive) and neural precursor cells (NPCs) and also control their proliferation, elongation, differentiation and maturation in vitro. They extended the method to living animals with implants in the brain and spinal cord.
The researchers concluded that the use of a combination of SAPNS and young cells eliminated the need for immuno-suppressants when cells were implanted in the central nervous system.
“Implanted stem cells are adversely susceptible to their new environment and quickly get old, but this study suggests a solution to conquer this problem,” said Prof. Shinn-Zong Lin, professor of Neurosurgery at China University Medical Hospital, Taiwan and Chairman of the Pan Pacific Symposium on Stem Cell Research where part of this work was first presented. “The self-assembling nanofiber scaffold (SAPNS) provides a niche for the encapsulated stem cells by slowing down their growth, differentiation and proliferation, as well as potentially minimizing the immune response, thus enhancing the survival rate of the implanted stem cells. This allows the implanted stem cells to “stay forever young” and extend their neurites to reach distant targets, thereby re-establishing the neural circuits
This combination of stem cells and SAPNS technologies gives a new hope for building up younger neural circuit in the central neural system.”