Scientists at Michigan University have made biodegradable polymer spheres that can carry living cells into wounds, where they can form new tissue.
Developing the nanofibre sphere as a cell carrier that simulates the natural growing environment of the cell is a very significant advance in tissue repair, according to Peter Ma, a professor at Michigan University School of Dentistry, who led the team of researchers that developed the spheres.
Ma said the nanofibrous hollow microspheres are highly porous, which allows nutrients to enter easily. Additionally, the nanofibres in the hollow microspheres generate few degradation byproducts that can damage the cells.
In use, the nanofibrous hollow spheres would be combined with cells and then injected into a wound. The nanofibre spheres, which are slightly bigger than the cells they carry, would then degrade at the wound site. The cells they carry, which would have already started to grow owing to the fact that the spheres provide an environment in which they naturally thrive, would then be deposited at the wound site.
The next step for the research team is to see how the cell carrier works in larger animals — and eventually in people — to repair cartilage and other tissue types.