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In this research, published in Nature Communications in April 2019, the team modified the membrane of human mesenchymal stem cells with an enzyme, known as thrombin, which is involved in the wound healing process. When the modified cells were placed in a solution containing the blood protein fibrinogen, they automatically welded together through the growth of a natural hydrogel from the surface of the cells. The researchers have also shown that the resulting 3D cellular structures could be used for tissue engineering.
Dr Adam Perriman, Associate Professor in Biomaterials in the School of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, said: “One of the biggest challenges in cell therapies is the need to protect the cells from aggressive environments after transplantation. We have developed a completely new technology that allows cells to grow their own artificial extracellular matrix, enabling cells to protect themselves and allowing them to thrive after transplantation.”
The researcher’s new method of the conversion of natural enzymes into a membrane binding proteins, could pave the way for the development of a wide range of new biotechnologies.
University of Bristol. “Welding with stem cells for next-generation surgical glues: New generation of smart surgical glues and dressings for chronic wounds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190423133727.htm>.