Stem-Cell-Loaded Silk Scaffolds Speed Healing of Injured Tendons

Researchers at the Terasaki Institute have now shown that silk scaffolds loaded with stem cells can help tendons regenerate more effectively. New Atlas reports: For the new study, the Terasaki researchers developed their own scaffold that could support the tendon while it healed. This scaffold was made of silk fibroin paired with a hydrogel known as GelMA -- the former gave the scaffold strength and stretchability, while the latter is biocompatible and encourages cells to attach and grow. After experimenting to get the right ratios of ingredients, the team fabricated nanofiber sheets of their silk fibroin and GelMA (SG) material. Then the sheets are seeded with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can not only differentiate into several cell types, but also aid regeneration by producing signaling molecules that summon immune cells to the area and encourage new blood vessels to form. The team tested these stem-cell-loaded SG sheets in rats with injuries to their Achilles tendons. Compared to other scaffolds loaded with stem cells, those made of SG healed the tendons the fastest, while also forming densely packed tendon fibers, reducing injury sites, and remodeling the muscle components. "The synergistic effects of GelMA's capacity for supporting regenerative tissue formation and the structural advantages of silk fibroin make our composite material well suited for tendon repair," said HanJun Kim, lead researcher on the study. The team hopes that with further work, the stem-cell-loaded scaffolds could eventually lead to new therapies for tendon injuries. The research has been published in the journal Small.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.