Tissue engineers can use mesenchymal stem cells derived from fat to make cartilage, bone, or more fat. The best cells to use are ones that are already likely to become the desired tissue. Brown University researchers have discovered that the mechanical properties of the stem cells can foretell what they will become, leading to a potential method of concentrating them for use in healing.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — To become better healers, tissue engineers need a timely and reliable way to obtain enough raw materials: cells that either already are or can become the tissue they need to build. In a new study, Brown University biomedical engineers show that the stiffness, viscosity, and other mechanical properties of adult stem cells derived from fat, such as liposuction waste, can predict whether they will turn into bone, cartilage, or fat.
That insight could lead to a filter capable of extracting the needed cells from a larger and more diverse tissue sample, said Eric Darling, senior author of the paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Imagine a surgeon using such a filter to first extract fat from a patient with a bone injury and then to inject a high concentration of bone-making stem cells into the wound site during the same operation. (more…)