Magnetized stem cells could treat arthritis
Andy Coglan writing in New Scientist described a study where magnets are being used to control the transformation of stem cells into specific tissues. They could also be used to guide stem cells to target locations in the body, allowing arthritic joints and torn cartilage, for example, to be repaired without surgery. Alicia El Haj of Keele University, UK, and her colleagues created magnetic beads up to 2 micrometres across that bind to receptors on human mesenchymal stem cells, which are obtained from bone marrow or fat tissue. When a magnetic field is applied, the beads move, deforming the surface of the cells and forcing open its pores. The resulting influx of potassium ions sets in motion a cascade of reactions inside the cell that determine what kind of tissue it will turn into. This has obvious implications in the role of stem cell transformation.