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  • Writer's pictureSMART

New technique that identifies rare stem cells from bone marrow will give clinicians a fillip

in stem-cell treatment of joint, bone and muscle repair.

(L-R) Assoc Prof Jerry Chan, SMART co-Investigator; Dr Zhiyong Poon, SMART Research Scientist & Dr Jacky Lee, former SMART Postdoc Assoc, with the device

World’s first novel method for label-free identification of stem cells that will lead to more consistent and efficacious stem cell therapies A team of scientists and engineers at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) [新加坡-麻省理工学院科研中心] have invented a new technique to identify populations of rare stem cells from bone marrow based on their different combinations of biophysical characteristics such as cell size, cell stiffness and nucleus deformation.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a type of cells which resides in the bone marrow, can differentiate into cells that produce bone, cartilage, fat or muscles – a trait that clinicians exploit for tissue repair. (See Factsheet) With better identification of MSCs, doctors can be certain that the concentration of highly enriched MSC mixture is as stated, making it easier for them to develop stem-cell-based treatment that would be more consistent and produce better results.

Currently, there is no good way to separate MSCs from bone marrow cells that have already begun to differentiate into other cell types, but share the same molecules on the cell surface. This may be one reason why research results vary among laboratories and why stem-cell treatments now in clinical trials are not as effective as they could be, explained Krystyn Van Vliet, Lead Investigator, SMART BioSystems and Micromechanics (BioSyM) Interdisciplinary Research Group (IRG).

The research entitled ‘Multivariate biophysical markers predictive of mesenchymal stromal cell multipotency’ will be published in the prestigious scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week. Lead authors of the paper are Dr Jacky Lee and Dr Hui Shi, a former SMART Postdoctoral Associate.


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