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Stem cells with drug-loaded nanoparticles attached promote rapid recovery following bone marrow transplants

researchers of
the MIT MRSEC have developed a new process for attaching drug-loaded nanoparticles onto the surfaces of
living stem cells.  These
biodegradable particles, 100-200 nm in diameter, slowly release drug compounds
that stimulate stem cells and promote their survival and proliferation.  When stem cells decorated with these
particles are used to mimic a bone marrow transplant (BMT) in a murine model, the
particle-carrying cells reconstitute the immune system of treated animals
~5-fold faster than traditional BMTs.  Although
still in the early stages of development, this work opens up the exciting
possibility of dramatically shortening the time that a patient receiving a BMT
is immunosuppressed following the


Image: Modifying stem
cells with drug-loaded nanoparticles to enhance bone
marrow transplants.

Schematic view of biodegradable lipid particles chemically linked to the
surface of stem cells. Drugs
released from the particle are captured by the stem cell and provide survival
and reconstitution signals. 
(Right) Whole-animal imaging of mice receiving traditional bone marrow
transplant of unmodified stem cells (left images) or stem cells decorated with
drug-loaded nanoparticles (right images). "Heat map" colors indicate the number
of cells that have replenished in the animals as a function of time.