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Researchers Develop NEW Synthetic Stem Cells Without Cancer Risks

Dec 30, 2016 12:41 PM EST

Researchers have developed a form of synthetic cardiac stem cell. These stem cells appear to offer therapeutic benefits that can be compared to those from natural stem cells and could even replace some of the risks associated with stem cell therapies.

These cells appear to have better preservation stability and the technology is generalizable to other stem clels.

According to researchers from the North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, stem cell therapies promote endogenous repair. This means they aid damaged tissue in repairing itself by secreting "paracrine factors" that include proteins and other genetic materials.

While stem cell therapies can be effective, they are associated with risks such as tumor growth and immune rejection. The cells themselves appear very fragile and require careful storage and a multi-step process of typing and characterization.

Ke Cheng, with affiliations from NC State, UNC and UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, led a team in developing the synthetic version of a cardiac stem cell that could be used in off-shelf applications.

According to the Telegraph, Cheng and his colleagues fabricated a cell-mimicking microparticle (CMMP) from polylactic-co-glycolic-acid for PLGA, a biodegradable and biocompatible polymer. The researchers then harvested growth factor proteins from cultured human cardiac stem cells and added them to the PLGA. Finally, they coataed the particle with cardiac stem cell membrane.

When tested in-vitro, both the CMMP and cardiac stem cell promoted the growth of cardiac muscle cells. They also tested the CMMP in a cardiac mouse modle with myocardial infraction and found its ability to bind cardiac tissue and promote growth after a heart attack was similar to that of cardiac stem cells. 

According to Sowetan Live, the research appears in Nature Communications. Cheng said the study may be a first step towards a truly off-the-shelf stem cell product that would enable people to receive beneficial stem cell therapies when they're needed. 

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