Researchers at Harvard Medical School have developed a way to use
nanofibers as a scaffold for cell transplantation. Their method has
been shown to improve heart function in rats who have suffered heart
attacks. From the article by UPI:
The problem when it comes to injections of cells into heart muscle is the vast majority of them die. In the lab, scientists can guide how cells grow by modifying their surrounding chemistry and other factors, but when the cells are transplanted into the body, “we lose control,” Lee said. “Our results indicate that we can use nanotechnology to control the cells after they are injected, to make them live longer.”
The scientists employed organic fibers roughly 10 nanometers wide made from amino acids, the same building blocks proteins are built with. They incorporated the heart-growth-promoting hormone IGF-1 into the nanofibers. When exposed to the kind of chemical environments found within the body, the nanofibers automatically assemble themselves into scaffolds the researchers surrounded the heart cells with.