Engineers have successfully enhanced stem cells' ability to regenerate vascular tissue such as blood vessels by equipping them with genes that produce extra tissue growth factors.
Stem cells hold great potential as a way to promote tissue regeneration. However, this approach has been limited because stem cells don't produce enough growth factors after transplantation.
To overcome the problem, the researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology removed stem cells from mouse bone marrow and used them to develop nanoparticles to deliver the gene for the growth factor VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor).
The stem cells were then implanted into damaged tissue areas. These nanoparticles, which the MIT team has also tested to deliver cancer treatments, are believed to be safer than the viruses often used for gene delivery.
The findings revealed that the stem cells successfully generated blood vessels near the site of an injury, allowing damaged tissue to survive.
These stem cells could be used to treat an infarction (death of tissue caused by blockage of the blood supply, by a clot or another obstruction), or to induce blood supply for engineered tissues.