Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Medics Unveil Stem Cell Bandage

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

North Medics Unveil Stem Cell Bandage

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

APIONEERING team of North East medics have taken the unprecedented step of encasing stem cells in seaweed to treat wounds.

It is hoped the revolutionary treatment can be used by paramedics and even in war zones to treat injured soldiers.

For the first time the stem cells have been put into plasters and bandages to help heal wounds, thanks to a new technique developed by scientists at Newcastle University.

The method of encasing stem cells in an alginate gel made from seaweed makes them practical to use, adaptable and easy to store - even at room temperature.

Che Connon, professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, said: "The stem cells are surrounded by an alginate gel which protects them from the environment - a bit like frogspawn. We found them unchanged even after three days at room temperature.

"This has lots of advantages and applications. For example, we have used them to make a bandage which contains human stem cells which could be applied to a wound such as an ulcer or burn to speed up the healing process."

There is much scientific evidence showing stem cells from fatty tissue can be used to improve wound healing by reducing inflammation and speeding up wound closure.

However, until now the problem has been that these stem cells have had to be stored and handled by experts under specialised conditions - limiting their practical use. Rather than keeping them at 37 degrees Celsius, in atmospheric oxygen and 5% carbon dioxide, encasing the stem cells in an alginate gel is shown to prolong their life for up to three days at ambient temperatures. This offers a simple solution to many of the challenges of transporting cell cultures.

Alginate is a natural material extracted from seaweed that is used in cosmetics, food manufacturing and more recently in healthcare. Alginate on its own without stem cells is used in wound dressings to keep burns moist. …

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