Did you know that the placenta of a newborn is home to life-saving stem cells like lymphoma and leukemia? This is one of the major reasons that parents these days choose to store blood in a baby’s umbilical cord. Specifically, if the pregnancy is affected by gestational diabetes, the stem cells of the umbilical cord are damaged, rendering the placenta useless. However, a study by bioengineers from the University of Notre Dame, talks about a new strategy that can restore damaged stem cells, and enable them to grow new tissues again. Under the new strategy, each damaged stem cell is given a nanoparticle backpack.
According to studyEach spherical nanoparticle, which is 150 nanometers in diameter, has the ability to store the drug and slowly transfer it to stem cells.
Donny Hanjaya-Sota, Assistant Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering Graduate Program at Notre Dame, Told“Each stem cell is like a soldier. It’s smart and effective; it knows where to go and what to do. But the ‘soldiers’ we’re dealing with are wounded and vulnerable. They need it.” By providing a nanoparticle “backpack”, we are giving them what they need to work effectively again.
Later, the researchers performed an experiment on damaged cells by removing the “backpack”. After investigation, it was concluded that the said cells formed incomplete tissues. Whereas, the “backpack” result showed the formation of new blood vessels.
According to Hanjaya-putra, his study has “the clearest route of any method ever developed.” He adds, “Methods that involve injecting the drug directly into the bloodstream carry a number of unwanted risks and side effects.”
Hanjaya-Putra and her team think this method could be useful during pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. “In the future, instead of removing stem cells, we hope that physicians will be able to use them to rejuvenate and regenerate the body,” the researcher continued. Citing one example, Hanjaya-Putra said, “For example, a baby born prematurely because of preeclampsia may have to remain in the NICU with an incompletely formed lung. We hope that our technology can help this baby.” can improve development outcomes.