Carbon nanofibres + stem cells = nerve cell regeneration

17525-092206stemcells.jpgLast week I posted about a presentation given by Samuel Stupp at the 232nd meeting of the American Chemical Society. During the Advances in Nanomedicine symposium, Stupp described experiments showing that nanofibres injected into rats which had suffered heart attacks  assembled themselves into scaffolds which promoted angiogenesis around the heart, leading to repair of the damaged tissue.

Now there’s more exciting news from the same symposium. Thomas J. Webster, a professor of engineering at Brown University, reports that a cocktail of carbon nanofibres and stem cells injected into the brains of rats which had suffered strokes caused generation of new neurons, leading to repair of the damaged areas. This was not observed in rats injected with either nanofibres or stem cells alone.

Webster believes the cocktail promoted neuronal regeneration because of interactions between the nanofibres and laminin, a component of the extracellular matrix. He says the nanofibres anchored the stem cells to the injury site, and that their ability to conduct electricity enabled the newly-formed neurons to form functional circuits.

The work was carried out in collaboration with researchers at Yonsei University in Seoul, S. Korea, and will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Biomaterials.

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