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New material could support stem cell development

'Smart' gel could help coax stem cells to develop into heart cells

By
5:38pm, December 14, 2009

The right kind of support could make stem cells more biddable.

A new gel may give physical cues that coax stem cells to develop correctly and repair tissue damaged by heart attacks. The gel mimics the way heart tissue stiffens throughout development, researchers from the University of California, San Diego, reported in San Diego December 8 at the annual meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology.

Previous work by the group, led by Adam Engler, showed that stem cells can respond to mechanical cues as well as to chemical signals in deciding their fates. Stem cells grown on soft material form into soft tissues such as brain, and those grown on hard materials form bonelike tissues.

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