Scottish scientists have managed to replicate regenerative stem cells in the lab using microscopic magnets, paving the way for new treatments to repair cartilage and bones.
The technique overcomes a major roadblock in accessing the potential of mesenchymal stem cells, which can develop into different cells such as bone, cartilage or fat when needed to heal injuries.
Glasgow University researchers grew these cells and prevented them from developing until needed, by attaching the magnetic nanoparticles to each stem cells and using a magnet to creating clumps of these cells.
These clumps of cells could be placed in a soft gel similar to bone marrow jelly without changing. When placed next to an injured bone or ligament, the cells would become active to heal the wound.
Dr Catherine Berry said: “This is a really exciting discovery, which uses a fairly simple and affordable method to grow and maintain stem cells ready to heal tissues.”
The team are exploring how the technique could combat leukaemia and breast cancer.