Bioengineering strategies to accelerate stem cell therapeutics

Abstract

Although only a few stem cell-based therapies are currently available to patients, stem cells hold tremendous regenerative potential, and several exciting clinical applications are on the horizon. Biomaterials with tuneable mechanical and biochemical properties can preserve stem cell function in culture, enhance survival of transplanted cells and guide tissue regeneration. Rapid progress with three-dimensional hydrogel culture platforms provides the opportunity to grow patient-specific organoids, and has led to the discovery of drugs that stimulate endogenous tissue-specific stem cells and enabled screens for drugs to treat disease. Therefore, bioengineering technologies are poised to overcome current bottlenecks and revolutionize the field of regenerative medicine.

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Fig. 1: Challenges in translating stem cell therapies with potential bioengineered solutions.
Fig. 2: Recapitulating niche interactions to direct stem cell fate.
Fig. 3: Impact of bioengineering on stem cell advances currently in the clinic or on the horizon.

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Acknowledgements

C.M.M. is supported by the Stanford ChEM-H Interdisciplinary Postdoctoral Training Program in Quantitative Mechanobiology. S.C.H. acknowledges support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) (U19 AI116484 and R21 HL13804201), the National Science Foundation (DMR 1508006) and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) (RT3-07948). H.M.B. acknowledges support from the NIH (R01 AG020961, R01 AR063963, R01 NS089533, and R01 HG00967401), CIRM (DISC1-10036), the American Heart Association (17CSA33590101), the Baxter Foundation, and the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

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C.M.M., S.C.H. and H.M.B. all participated in the planning, writing and editing of the article.

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Correspondence to Helen M. Blau.

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Madl, C.M., Heilshorn, S.C. & Blau, H.M. Bioengineering strategies to accelerate stem cell therapeutics. Nature 557, 335–342 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0089-z

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