UW Bioengineering Assistant Professor Deok-Ho Kim and collaborators have published work featured on the inside front cover of the April issue of Biomaterials Science. In this review article, the researchers examine the potential of self-assembling peptides (SAPs) in conjunction with stem cells to improve the repair of damaged tissues.
In their paper, Dr. Kim and colleagues discuss literature documenting the influence of SAPs on stem cell fate in neural, skeletal and cardiac tissue. They relate their conclusions to developments in the fields of nanotopography, mechanotransduction and the native composition of the extracellular matrix to identify potential directions for future research.
Therapies available today fail to restore tissue damage caused by degenerative conditions, aging and traumatic injuries. Treatments using pluriopotent stem cells may offer promising alternatives, but researchers still seek reliable methods for differentiating and integrating stem cells to regenerate or replace damaged tissue.
Emerging research suggests that SAPs, which self-organize into nanofiber structures that can ultimately resemble components of native extracellular tissue, could be a useful tool in guiding stem cell fate. The use of SAPs in conjunction with stem cells can direct cell differentiation by mimicking native tissues, and could optimize future stem cell treatments.