Do you know that a newborn’s umbilical cord is home to life-saving stem cells such as lymphoma and leukemia? This is one of the main reasons why parents today choose to store the blood in a baby’s umbilical cord. Particularly when pregnancies are affected by gestational diabetes, the stem cells of the umbilical cord become damaged, rendering the umbilical cord useless. However, a study conducted by bioengineers at the University of Notre Dame speaks of a new strategy that can repair damaged stem cells and allow them to grow new tissue again. According to the new strategy, every damaged stem cell gets a backpack with nanoparticles.
According to the study, each spherical nanoparticle, 150 nanometers in diameter, has the ability to store the drug and slowly transfer it to stem cells.
Donny Hanjaya-Putra, assistant professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, bioengineering at Notre Dame, said: “Every stem cell is like a soldier. It’s smart and effective; it knows where to go and what to do.” “But the ‘soldiers’ we work with are wounded and weak. By giving them this nanoparticle ‘backpack’, we’re giving them what they need to work effectively again.”
Later, the researchers conducted an experiment on the damaged cells by removing the “backpacks.” After examination, it was concluded that the said cells formed imperfect tissues. While the result with “backpacks” showed the formation of new blood vessels
According to Hanjaya-Putra, their study has the “clearest path of any method developed so far.” He added, “Methods that involve injecting the drug directly into the bloodstream carry many unwanted risks and side effects.”
Hanjaya-Putra and his team think this approach could be useful for pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. The researcher added: “Instead of throwing away the stem cells, we hope that in the future clinicians can rejuvenate and use them to regenerate the body.” Citing an example, Hanjaya-Putra added, “A premature baby due to preeclampsia may need to remain in the NICU with an imperfectly shaped lung. We hope our technology can improve this child’s developmental outcomes.”