A new stem cell therapy created by scientists in China may be able to restore blood flow after an injury has occurred.  The therapy could potentially help millions of people who have had an injury caused by blood loss.  This new stem cell therapy was described in the journal ACS Central Science.

When a person’s blood flow is reduced, the body is starved of oxygen and nutrients.  It can lead to cell death if blood flow is not quickly restored.  The term ischaemia is used to describe a shortage of blood supply to an organ in the body that results in cell death.

Researchers have been testing the ability of stem cells to repair the damage to tissue after ischaemia has occurred by creating new blood vessels.  Up until now, they were unsuccessful because the stem cells would not survive long enough to regenerate tissue.

This new stem cell therapy harnesses nanoparticles to help the stem cells survive.  The Chinese researchers decided that stem cells would need a continuous stream of growth factors to survive and create new blood vessels.  Nanoparticles are very effective at delivering tiny molecules like growth factors.  The only problem is that nanoparticles would drag their cargo inside of cells.  The growth factors would need to stay outside of a cell to be effective.

To overcome this problem, the researchers encapsulated the growth factors and placed them inside nanoparticles so they would be protected.  They then placed the nanoparticles inside larger hydrogel capsules that cannot be taken up by cells — protecting the growth factors. 

The researchers tested the stem cell therapy on mice.  They found that the growth factors made it to the site of tissue affected by ischaemia, then helped to restore blood flow.  Researchers believe this stem cell therapy could eventually help millions of patients with suffer from conditions that affect their blood supply.

Source: ‘Nano-in-micro’ stem cell delivery could rescue blood flow after injury