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Nanotubes turn stem cells to bone

  February 2/9, 2009
Make a surface of the right size nanotubes and you can make stem cells turn into bone cells.

Undifferentiated human stem cells adhere to titanium oxide nanotubes. If the nanotubes are about 30 nanometers in diameter, the stem cells stick but remain unchanged. If the nanotubes are about 70 to 100 nanometers in diameter, the stem cells stretch out, lengthening by 10 times. The stretching triggers the cells to differentiate into osteoblasts, which are the precursors to bone cells.

The technique could be used to improve medical implants including artificial joints.

Research paper:
Stem Cell Fate Dictated Solely by Altered Nanotube Dimension
Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences, January 28, 2008

Researchers' homepages:
Sungho Jin
Adam J. Engler
Shu Chien

Related stories and briefs:
Aligned nanotubes accommodate bone -- related research

Back to TRN February 2/9, 2009

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