A collaboration between researchers at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University have apparently created a synthetic mimic of cardiac stem cells. These may end up being used instead of natural stem cells while reducing or eliminating side effects that may arise from stem cell therapy.
The artificial cell consists of PLGA, a commonly used biocompatible polymer, mixed with growth factor proteins obtained from human cardiac stem cells grown in a typical fashion. Holding this all together is a cardiac stem cell membrane. The structure can withstand conditions that extremely fragile stem cells would succumb to and can be translated to other types of stem cells, potentially making these artificial cells more practical in clinical applications.
Since the particle doesn’t contain any genetic material, nor other important aspects of a cell, it cannot replicate and cause side effects such as cancer. In lab tests, though, the cell mimicking particle promoted cardiac muscle cells to grow and proliferate. In mice with induced myocardial infarcts, the particle had a similar healing effect on cardiac tissue to that of natural cardiac stem cells.
“The synthetic cells operate much the same way a deactivated vaccine works,” said Ke Cheng, associate professor of molecular biomedical sciences at NC State, associate professor in the joint biomedical engineering program at NC State and UNC, and adjunct associate professor at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. “Their membranes allow them to bypass the immune response, bind to cardiac tissue, release the growth factors and generate repair, but they cannot amplify by themselves. So you get the benefits of stem cell therapy without risks.”
Study in Nature Communications: Therapeutic microparticles functionalized with biomimetic cardiac stem cell membranes and secretome…