With the potential to transform into brand new healthy tissue, stem cells offer the promise of repair and recovery to millions of people worldwide. These adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ADMSCs, green) are multipotent – they can change, or differentiate, into several types of cell, like fat, bone or cartilage. The question is how to encourage one destiny over the others? Here ADMSCs are growing on 'scaffolds' made from nanofibers arranged in different ways – randomly (left), in one direction (middle), or in a honeycomb pattern (right). Pictured one (top), two (middle) or six (bottom) days after sticking to their scaffolds, the stem cells grow and stretch into different shapes – the cells on the right curve themselves around the honeycomb. It turns out this arrangement is just the thing to encourage differentiation into osteoblasts [new bone cells], and could influence future designs in bone tissue engineering.
Written by John Ankers
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