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MIT bioengineer advances survival, promise of adult stem cells

Anne Trafton, News Office

February 27, 2007

 

MIT researchers have developed a technique to encourage the survival and growth of adult stem cells, a step that could help realize the therapeutic potential of such cells.

Adult stem cells, found in many tissues in the body, are precursor cells for specific cell types. For example, stem cells found in the bone marrow develop into blood cells, bone cells and other connective tissues, and neural stem cells develop into brain tissue.

Those stem cells hold great promise for treatment of injuries and some diseases, says MIT professor of biological engineering Linda Griffith.

Griffith is the senior author of a recent study showing that when presented in the right physical context, certain growth factors encourage the survival and proliferation of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells grown outside of the body.

The work offers hope that one day, stem cells removed from a patient could be transplanted to an injury site and induced to grow into new, healthy tissue. The research appears in the January 18 online issue
of Stem Cells.

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