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What Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

The above images are colored scanning electron micrographs (SEM) of human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. MSCs are multipotent stromal (connective tissue) cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), and adipocytes (fat cells).

Learn more about Mesenchymal Stem Cells

The youngest, most primitive MSCs can be obtained from the umbilical cord tissue, namely Wharton’s jelly and the umbilical cord blood. However the MSCs are found in much higher concentration in the Wharton’s jelly compared to the umbilical cord blood, which is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells. The umbilical cord is easily obtained after the birth of the newborn, is normally thrown away, and poses no risk for collection. The umbilical cord MSCs have more primitive properties than other adult MSCs obtained later in life, which might make them a useful source of MSCs for clinical applications.

Adipose tissue is one of the richest sources of MSCs. There are more than 500 times more stem cells in 1 gram of fat than in 1 gram of aspirated bone marrow. Adipose stem cells are actively being researched in clinical trials for treatment of a variety of diseases. Additionally, amniotic fluid has been shown to be a rich source of stem cells. As many as 1 in 100 cells collected during amniocentesis has been shown to be a pluripotent mesenchymal stem cell.

Images above © © Steve Gschmeissner / Science Source

 Nanofiber scaffolds demonstrate new features in the behavior of stem and cancer cells

A discovery in the field of biomaterials may open new frontiers in stem and cancer cell manipulation and associated advanced therapy development. Novel scaffolds are shown enabling cells to behave in a different but controlled way in vitro due to the presence of aligned, self-assembled ceramic nanofibers of an ultra-high anisotropy ratio augmented into graphene shells.

“This unique hybrid nano-network allows for an exceptional combination of selective guidance stimuli for stem cell development, variations in immune reactions, and behavior of cancer cells”, says Professor Michael Gasik from Aalto University.

These scaffolds, for example, were shown to be able to direct the preferential orientation of human mesenchymal stem cells, similarly to neurogenic lineage, to suppress of major inflammatory factors expression and to immobilize cancer cells.

The results of the study were published in Nature Scientific Reports

Caption: Fluorescent images of breast carcinoma cell line showing the morphological changes of cells grown on vertical GAIN scaffolds. Credit: Aalto University / Michael Gasik