Self-healing and tissue regeneration is one of the goals of today’s modern medicine. From the time we are born until we die, our cells They lose the ability to regenerate. While a wound in a baby heals quickly, it takes longer to heal in an older person. That is why giving support to the ability of our cells to divide and multiply to close wounds or heal damage is one of the goals that are sought and that will mean an improvement in the approach to many diseases.
In recent times, research, such as this one from the University of Connecticut, has achieved successfully regenerate a rabbit’s joint cartilage through electrical signals that prompted cells to regenerate, designing a tissue matrix with polylactic acid nanofibers, a biodegradable polymer that produces an electrical charge when compressed. The objective of the researchers was to ensure that this matrix generates a stable and constant electric field that attracts the cells and they manage to regenerate the cartilage.
So far this progress has been a success, laying the foundations for the regeneration of human joints. But it is not the only research that seeks to regenerate tissues. For two years, biochemistry Mary Moors, of Superior Council of Scientific Investigations, and his team seek to “trick” cells to promote regeneration. An investigation based on his knowledge of the capabilities of nanoparticles and his experience with the Hydra vulgaris, a small polyp that shares an evolutionary origin with jellyfish and is capable of unlimited regeneration. “If you divide this polyp in two, in three days you have two completely identical animals,” the researcher told Consalud.es. “Humans also have that ability, but let’s say it’s asleep.”
“Our goal is to fool the cell with a nanoparticle and a magnet that create a force that the cell’s sensors interpret as an obligation to divide”
From this pair of ideas was born sirocco, a project that, due to its innovation, has obtained funding of almost two million euros from the European Research Council court, “a dream” that has made these two years of research possible in which they have shown that their hypothesis may be feasible. “Our objective is fool the cell with a nanoparticle and a magnet that create a force that the cell’s sensors interpret as an obligation to divide to increase regeneration.”
The idea stems from the concept of mechanotransduction, a phenomenon that takes advantage of the ability of cells to detect certain mechanical stimuli and transform them into biochemical signals that send cells the need to multiply. Cells are capable of sensing different changes in tension or different forces that cause them to act. “When we have a wound, for example, the sensors located in the cell membrane detect a change in tension, since there are fewer cells around, and send the order to the cell to divide, giving rise to regeneration.” Using modified electromagnetic nanoparticles and a magnet, these researchers have managed to mimic this process.
“We have placed in the electromagnetic nanoparticles, in an area that later comes into contact with the sensors that cover the cell membrane, the molecules that we want to be expressed, previously modified. We have achieved this first step, joining the nanoparticles to the cells we want”. And through different processes they have seen that these particles are capable of giving the message, the problem now is to find the exact level of force that produces the magnet so that this phenomenon is triggered.
“We are having a hard time fine-tuning the exact force that the magnet has to exert to attract these nanoparticles and generate the chain of responses”
“We are having a hard time fine-tuning the exact force that the magnet has to apply to attract these nanoparticles and generate the chain of responses.” The pandemic during the first months of the project that was born in May 2022, Brexit that makes it difficult to access technology from the United Kingdom, and the lack of an engineer who would like to work with them on a university project have delayed this process. “In October a physical engineer arrives to help us regulate the power of the magnets. We hope that with this we will soon have results”, says Moros.
OBJECTIVES AND VISIONS FOR THE FUTURE
The possibility of sending the regeneration order to an exact cell opens the doors to a new field of regenerative medicine and personalized able to reach the wound and treat it reducing secondary effects. “While other treatments affect the entire body, this one would only focus on the area to be treated.”
Initially, this system will be used for superficial wounds, once the theory in culture cells is demonstrated and they can begin to apply it first in animals and then in humans. It will take some time to see, if its efficacy is confirmed, this treatment in clinical care. “But once the theory is proven, we will be able to target the nanoparticles to any part of the body that we want to control, and we would like to target stem cells. Then it will continue to be seen, reaching this point will be a milestone”, concludes María Moros.
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