Stem cell research is making significant advances so far this year. As discussed in an interesting Wall Street Journal article I read earlier this week, one such stride took place at Yale University, where doctors were able to treat a 4-year-old girl’s heart defect by implanting a biodegradable scaffolding covered with her own bone marrow cells.
The biodegradable tube is made of similar material to that used in dissolvable sutures. Six months after the surgery, the tube had disappeared, replaced by a bioengineered construct that acts like a normal blood vessel.
The doctors had expected the scaffold to disappear, but what they weren't expecting was that the stem cells that helped create the new blood vessel also disappeared.
Chris Breuer, the Yale pediatric surgeon who lead the project, said "A lot of people think that when you put cells in, they turn into whatever cells you want them to turn into.. We've clearly shown that doesn't happen in our graft."
This project, and recent research, suggests that the power of stem cells may be harnessed to effectively regenerate tissue and body parts affected by birth defects, injury and disease.
Learn more about this at the Stem Cells USA & Regenerative Medicine Congress, taking place this September.