Polarized laser method shows promise for regenerative medicine

Two researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF; Orlando, FL) are developing a noninvasive optical method for regulating the motion of cells. The work is promising for patients with diseased hearts, as they may someday be able to “grow” a replacement organ from adult stem cells harvested from their own bodies.

To accomplish this, the researchers are looking to use a polarized laser to build a blood vessel from adult stem cells that have been extracted from blood, explains Kiminobu Sugaya, Ph.D., of the UCF Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. The laser will gently control the movement of the cells, nudging them into the correct position layer by layer to create a vessel.

Their approach differs from previous technology that used artificial structures called scaffolds to support tissue formation and has several advantages, explains Sugaya. For example, using a weaker light source instead of a strong laser means there is less of a chance that the cells would be killed or damaged.

Also, the research could potentially reduce the risk of rejection for transplant patients when their own adult stem cells are used to custom-engineer new organs.

Sugaya says that the project’s optical-control technology also could bring relief to patients suffering from heart disease or diabetes. Diseased blood vessels could be replaced with healthy ones to get more oxygen to a heart or improve circulation in a diabetic who suffers from foot problems.

Sugaya is working alongside Aristide Dogariu of the College of Optics and Photonics at UCF (CREOL) to advance their approach, which is funded by a $329,764 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

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