In a study published in the journal Small, a team of researchers from Emory University and Georgia Tech found that by coating mesenchymal stem cells in tiny iron oxide particles, magnets can be used to attract the cells and steer them towards a particular location within the body.
Mesenchymal stem cells, which are obtained from adult tissue like bone marrow and fat, secrete beneficial anti-inflammatory factors and can develop into bone, fat, or cartilage cells. For this reason, they are extremely useful when treating certain conditions, such as autoimmune disorders and cardiovascular disease.
While similar iron oxide nanoparticles are routinely used in MRI scans, previous attempts to load them onto stem cells have failed, as their coating appears to compromise some of the cells’ properties. The new method relies on nanoparticles outfitted with a protective polyethylene glycol coating and fed to cells by a magnetic field rather than a chemical process.
“We were able to load the cells with a lot of these nanoparticles and we showed clearly that the cells were not harmed,” said Professor W. Robert Taylor of Emory University School of Medicine. “The coating is unique and thus there was no change in viability and perhaps even more importantly, we didn’t see any change in the characteristics of the stem cells, such as their capacity to differentiate.”
“This was essentially a proof of principle experiment. Ultimately, we would target these to a particular limb, an abnormal blood vessel or even the heart,” he added.
The full article is located at Medical Daily