Posted: June 4, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Anyone who knows a thing or two about biology knows that stem cells have tremendous potential in medicine: anything from repairing and replenishing heart cells after an attack to replacing nerve cells that are progressively lost in the brain of a person with Parkinson’s. One of the big challenges of using stem cells as a therapy is coaxing them to grow into the specific type of tissue that is required. In the body this happens thanks to precise chemical and physical signals, not all of which are yet understood or characterised. Using chemicals to direct the fate of stem cells has worked in laboratories, but the outcomes are not always safe or predictable. Now, a team from Northwestern University in the US thinks it has a solution. They say that they can direct the developmental fate of stem cells using only physical cues, by adapting a well-known technique that traces three-dimensional microscopic shapes and reconstructs them on flat surfaces. The process is called scanning probe lithography. (via How nanotechnology is shaping stem cell research | Nanotechnology world | guardian.co.uk)

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