CV cell therapy: bridge between nurse and building block

In the field of cell therapy for cardiovascular diseases, researchers see two main ways that the cells can provide benefits:

     *As building blocks – actually replacing dead cells in damaged tissues
     *As nurses — supplying growth factors and other supportive signals, but not becoming part of damaged tissue

Tension between these two roles arises partly from the source of the cells.

Stem cell biologist and MSP faculty member Young-sup Yoon and colleagues recently published a paper in Biomaterials in which the authors use chitosan, a gel-like carbohydrate material obtained by processing crustacean shells, to aid in cell retention and survival. Ravi Bellamkonda’s lab at Georgia Tech contributed to the paper. Dr. Bellamkonda is a faculty member in the NS program.

The chitosan gel resembles the alginate material used to encapsulate cells by the Taylor lab. (Dr. W. Robert R. Taylor is a faculty member in the MSP program.) Yoon’s team was testing efficacy in a hindlimb ischemia model, in which a mouse’s leg is deprived of blood. This situation is analogous to peripheral artery disease, and the readout of success is the ability of experimental treatments to regrow capillaries in the damaged leg.

The current paper builds a bridge between the nurse and building block approaches, because the researchers mix two complementary types of cells.

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