Research Highlights

Adipose-derived ‘Stem Cell Factory’ that Triggers Cell Generation and Differentiation

2020-06-12 28

– Professor Dong Sung Kim’s research team develops wavy-shaped micro/nano dual-scale surface structures
– Produces “2 on 1” micro/nano dual-scale wavy shapes on a single surface

Stem cells are the roots of cells that can differentiate into various type of cells. Also, they possess self-renewal property, an ability to divide while maintaining undifferentiated state. Therefore, a stem cell therapy, which artificially inserts stem cells into damaged organs, is coined as a ‘dream treatment’ because they can develop into any tissue in the body.

Professor Dong Sung Kim, Dr. Hyung Woo Kim, and master’s degree Jung Soo Lee of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at POSTECH have succeeded in producing a sinusoidal wavy pattern*1 micro/nano dual-scale structure*2 that can promote the proliferation of stem cells and the endothelial differentiation. The research results were published as the front cover in the latest edition of Advanced Materials Interfaces, an authoritative journal in the field of high-tech materials.

In order to treat damaged cartilage or arthritis, tissue regeneration is induced with adipose-derived stem cells (hASC) extracted from the patient’s buttocks or abdomen. Large amounts of stem cells can be obtained from these fat cells, which have self-renewing capabilities and grow for a long time, therefore have great potential as stem cell source.

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For stem cell treatment, it is essential to multiply large amounts of stem cells and differentiate them into target (vascular) cells.

To this end, Professor Kim’s research team studied the growth of hASCs and their differentiation into endothelial cells by using a micro/nano dual-scale sinusoidal wavy pattern. Multiple processes have produced micro-scale structures and nano-scale structures (less than one-hundredth of a size of the microstructures), on a single substrate.

Various sizes of micro/nano wave patterns are incorporated in a single substrate, allowing minimum effort to investigate the efficacy of the cell alignment, multiplication and endothelial differentiation of hASCs. The team confirmed that both the proliferation and endothelial differentiation of hASCs on a particular size (160um – 500nm) pattern increased their productivity.

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Professor Dong Sung Kim commented, “This study would advance the efficiency of stem cell therapy by promoting both the proliferation of stem cells and their differentiation into endothelial cells.” He added, “Although this study focused on vascular cell differentiation, it is expected to be applied to the differentiation of various tissues such as muscles, skin, nerves, cartilage and bones that have soft wave-type tissue structures that exist in the body.”

The research was conducted with the support from the Basic Research Program (Mid-career Researcher Program) and the Bio & Medical Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT.

1. Sinusoidal wavy patterns
wavy shapes of periodic sine waves, such as sound or light waves.

2. Micro/nano dual-scale topography structure
Nanoscale and microscale structures on a single sample.