|Stem cells (Photo credit: BWJones)|
What are the challenges in stem cell therapy? No, I am not talking about the Apple stem cell cream your beauty therapist gave you that is supposed to wipe away the wrinkles on your face like a magic wand and you actually believed, for the umpteenth time, that maybe you are going to become young again. Here I am talking about your own ‘real’ stem cells!
You need to identify a source, isolate and selectively amplify the correct type, ensure differentiation into the correct terminal cell type and find a way to actually put them in the correct place. Not something as simple as eating an apple. So if you want to treat a non-healing ulcer with keratinocyte stem cells, how do you get them without making another breach in the epidermis?
Dr Nair and Dr Krishnan from Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, India found that 4% of peripheral blood mononuclear cell in the blood are keratinocyte progenitor cells (KPCs) with the specific KPC marker p63 that can be harvested easily. They have designed a biomimetic niche that can amplify it up to 70%. Within 12 days of culture, the cells coexpressed p63, CK5, and CK14 ensuring a keratinocyte lineage. Differentiation progressed during subculture and expressed involucrin and filaggrin indicating terminal keratinocyte differentiation. Since desmosomal connections are absent these cells can be easily transferred to a fibrin/fibroblast sheet ideal for transplantation as a skin substitute.
The two other stem cells of dermatological importance are melanocyte and hair progenitors. The former is difficult to amplify while the latter is difficult to find. Hope with the breathtaking developments in stem cell research, we would find a way soon!
1. Nair, RP. “Identification of p63+ keratinocyte progenitor cells in circulation and …” 2013. <http://stemcellres.com/content/4/2/38>
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