Major subsidy for research on using stem cells for tissue repairapril 12, 2018
Stem cells offer the unique possibility to repair or replace damaged tissue and organs in the human body. This offers hope to patients with chronic illnesses and degenerative conditions. The success of stem cell therapies is however plagued by a lack of knowledge on how stem cells guide regenerative processes, and a lack of reliable research methods for determining this capability.
The main question is mostly whether or not transplanted stem cells themselves are responsible for regeneration, or whether they activate stem cells that are naturally produced by the body and which are already present in the damaged tissue. According to the researchers on the Brightlands Maastricht Health Campus, the human eye is an excellent model for answering this question. The eye is the only organ for which a cellular regenerative therapy is available and contains all the important cell types that are present in the human body. This ensures that knowledge acquired during the project can be translated into more general concepts involving tissue regeneration and other organs.
Nanotechnology and imaging
The researchers are going to use nanoparticles to label stem cells, enabling these to be visualized with the aid of various imaging techniques. This will help them observe the behavior of transplanted stem cells at different levels. The knowledge gained will initially be used to improve the current stem cell therapy for corneal repair, but is also certain to contribute to the development of new treatment methods for damage to the eyes. This knowledge will also be able to be applied for other organs, enabling imaging methods to be developed for labeling other stem cell types.