Florida State University researchers have now developed a new medical device that is believed to allow bone marrow derived stem cells to be grown in sufficient quantities to permit far more research and allow faster growth of tissues. This overcomes the currently involved technical difficulties in the growth and transplantation of stem cells.
The device called a perfusion bioreactor is designed to mimic conditions encountered by adult stem cells within the human body. The protein rich fluid produced by the reactor bathes the stem cell samples to provide nourishment by a parallel simulation of circulatory system.
The perfusion bioreactor allows the delivery of essential nutrients in a physiological way. Furthermore, the researchers hope to alter the fate of each stem cell by altering the nutrient flow. If this is appropriately designed, the stem cell can give rise to a blood cell, nerve cell or a skin cell depending on the need.
The stem cells derived from mesenchymal cells and processed in the bioreactor are viable for a period of 40 days and can be directed to differentiate into bone, cartilage, muscle, heart muscle, fat or nerve tissue. The stem cells produced in this way are ideally suitable for clinical transplantation.
The current development overcomes the need of using fetal or embryonic tissue and eliminates the ethical concerns associated with the same as the mesenchymal stem cells can be extracted from adult donors.
The stem cells for the present study were extracted through a medical procedure in which a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from the donors' pelvic bone. Within that extracted bone marrow, only about one in every 100,000 cells is a stem cell.
The rarity of finding bone marrow derived adult stem cell and technical difficulties involved in growth and multiplication of the stem cells posed a significant challenge to the researchers. However, the research team successfully overcame these shortcomings to achieve the desired results.
The present study may eventually pave way for significant breakthroughs in the field of stem cell research and application and help advance the development of numerous medical therapies in the years to come.