To grow clusters of human stem cells that mimic organs in the lab and might be used someday in tissue implants, Bill Murphy, a UW-Madison professor of biomedical engineering, creates tiny scaffolds made of plastic or rubber.
The three-dimensional scaffolds must support the cells and feed them, help them organize and allow them to communicate.
Now, Murphy and UW-Madison post-doctoral fellow Gianluca Fontana have grown skin, brain, bone marrow and blood vessel cells on cellulose from plants such as parsley, spinach, vanilla and bamboo.
Plants could be an alternative to artificial scaffolds for growing stem cells, the researchers reported….
“Rather than having to manufacture these devices using high-tech approaches, we could literally pick them off of a tree,” said Murphy, co-director of the UW-Madison Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center.
A major goal of tissue engineering is to develop implants that could regenerate tissue in people — to repair bone or muscle damage after traumatic injuries, for example.
It is likely the human body wouldn’t reject tissue implants formed on plant scaffolds because the plant cells would be removed, Murphy said.
[The study can be found here.]
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