Home Career Nanoparticle ‘backpacks’ repair damaged stem cells – ScienceDaily

Nanoparticle ‘backpacks’ repair damaged stem cells – ScienceDaily


A newborn’s umbilical cord holds potentially life-saving stem cells that could be used to fight diseases such as lymphoma and leukemia. This is why many new parents choose to bank their baby’s stem cell-rich umbilical cord blood. But in 6 to 15 percent of pregnancies with gestational diabetes, parents don’t have that option because the condition damages the stem cells and renders them useless.

Now, in the future research in Biology of communicationbioengineers from the University of Notre Dame have shown that a new strategy can repair damaged stem cells and allow them to regrow new tissue.

At the heart of this new approach are specially designed nanoparticles. With a diameter of just 150 nanometers – about a quarter the size of a red blood cell – each spherical nanoparticle is able to store drugs and deliver them only to the stem cells themselves by attaching directly to the surface of the stem cells. Due to the special composition or “tuning”, the particles slowly release the medicine, which makes it very effective even at very low doses.

Donny Khanjaya-Putra, an assistant professor in the bioengineering program in Notre Dame’s aerospace and mechanical engineering program who directs the lab where the research was conducted, described the process with an analogy. “Each stem cell is like a soldier. She is smart and efficient; she knows where to go and what to do. But the “soldiers” we work with are wounded and weak. By giving them this ‘backpack’ of nanoparticles, we are giving them what they need to function effectively again.”

The main test for the new stem cells equipped with a “backpack” was whether they could form new tissues. Khanjaya-Putra and his team tested the damaged cells without the backpacks and noticed that they moved slowly and formed imperfect tissue. But when Hanjaya-Putra and his team applied the “backpacks,” previously damaged stem cells began to form new blood vessels, both when inserted into synthetic polymers and when implanted under the skin of laboratory mice – two environments designed to simulate conditions in the human body.

Although it may be years before this new technique reaches real-world healthcare settings, Hanjaya-Putra explained that it has the most accurate path of any method developed so far. “Methods that involve injecting drugs directly into the bloodstream carry many unwanted risks and side effects,” Khanjaya-Putra said. In addition, new techniques such as gene editing face a long road to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. But the Hanjaya-Putra technique used only methods and materials already approved by the FDA for clinical settings.

Hanjaya-Putra attributes the success of the study to a highly interdisciplinary team of researchers. “It was a collaboration between chemical engineering, engineering, biology and medicine – and I always believe that the best science happens at the intersection of several different fields.”

The study’s lead author was former Notre Dame doctoral student Loan Bui, now a faculty member at the University of Dayton in Ohio; stem cell biologist Laura S. Hahneline and former postdoctoral fellow Shanique Edwards of the Indiana University School of Medicine; Notre Dame bioengineering doctoral students Eva Hall and Laura Alderfer; Notre Dame students Pietro Sainaghi, Kellen Round and 2021 Madeline Owen; Prakash Nalatambi, Associate Professor, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering; and Siyuan Zhang of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

The researchers hope their approach will be used to repair cells damaged by other types of pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. “Instead of throwing away the stem cells,” Hanjaya-Putra said, “we hope that in the future, clinicians will be able to rejuvenate them and use them to regenerate the body. For example, a baby born prematurely due to preeclampsia may have to stay in the We hope that our technology can improve this child’s developmental outcomes.”

The research was made possible by funding from the Notre Dame Advancing Our Vision Initiative in Stem Cell Research, Notre Dame’s Science of Wellness Initiative, the Indiana Institute for Clinical and Translational Sciences, the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health.

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Materials is provided University of Notre Dame. Originally written by Brett Beasley. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.

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