Researchers at RMIT University have used high frequency MHz-order mechanostimulation to trigger differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells from various donor sources toward an osteoblast (bone-forming) lineage.
Tissue engineering is an emerging field that aims to rebuild bone and muscle by harnessing the human body’s natural ability to heal itself.
A key challenge in regrowing bone is the need for large amounts of bone cells that will thrive and flourish once implanted in the target area.
To date, experimental processes to change adult stem cells into bone cells have used complicated and expensive equipment and have struggled with mass production, making widespread clinical application unrealistic.
Additionally, the few clinical trials attempting to regrow bone have largely used stem cells extracted from a patient’s bone marrow — a highly painful procedure.
In the new study, RMIT University’s Professor Leslie Yeo and colleagues showed stem cells treated with MHz-order sound waves turned into bone cells quickly and efficiently.
Importantly, the treatment was effective on multiple types of cells including fat-derived stem cells, which are far less painful to extract from a patient.
“The new approach was faster and simpler than other methods,” said RMIT University’s Dr. Amy Gelmi.
“The sound waves cut the treatment time usually required to get stem cells to begin to turn into bone cells by several days.”
“This method also doesn’t require any special ‘bone-inducing’ drugs and it’s very easy to apply to the stem cells.”
“Our study found this new approach has strong potential to be used for treating the stem cells, before we either coat them onto an implant or inject them directly into the body for tissue engineering.”
To generate the high-frequency sound waves, the authors used a low-cost microchip device, which can be used to precisely manipulate cells, fluids or materials.
“We can use the sound waves to apply just the right amount of pressure in the right places to the stem cells, to trigger the change process,” Professor Yeo said.
“Our device is cheap and simple to use, so could easily be upscaled for treating large numbers of cells simultaneously — vital for effective tissue engineering.”
The team’s work was published in the journal Small.
Lizebona August Ambattu et al. Short-Duration High Frequency MegaHertz-Order Nanomechanostimulation Drives Early and Persistent Osteogenic Differentiation in Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Small, published online January 13, 2022; doi: 10.1002/smll.202106823
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