Northwestern University researchers develop synthetic material that can improve tissue generation

Materials developed at Northwestern University could potentially help patients requiring stem cell therapies for spinal cord injuries, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease or any other condition requiring tissue regeneration, according a university article.
The new work published in Nature Communications reports the development of the first synthetic material that has the capability to trigger reversibly this type of dynamic signaling, according to the article. The platform could not only lead to materials that manage stem cells for more effective regenerative therapies, but will also allow scientists to explore and discover in the laboratory new ways to control the fate of cells and their functions, it states.

The authors include BMES member Ronit Freeman, along with Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Zaida Álvarez, Jacob A Lewis, Shantanu Sur, Chris M Serrano, Job Boekhoven, Sungsoo S. Lee and Samuel I. Stupp.

According to the abstract published in Nature Communications: The native extracellular matrix is a space in which signals can be displayed dynamically and reversibly, positioned with nanoscale precision, and combined synergistically to control cell function.

“Here we describe a molecular system that can be programmed to control these three characteristics. In this approach we immobilize peptide-DNA (P-DNA) molecules on a surface through complementary DNA tethers directing cells to adhere and spread reversibly over multiple cycles. The DNA can also serve as a molecular ruler to control the distance-dependent synergy between two peptides. Finally, we use two orthogonal DNA handles to regulate two different bioactive signals, with the ability to independently up- or downregulate each over time. This enabled us to discover that neural stem cells, derived from the murine spinal cord and organized as neurospheres, can be triggered to migrate out in response to an exogenous signal but then regroup into a neurosphere as the signal is removed.”

CLICK HERE for the full paper.