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Artificial & Replacement Organs & Tissues

Organs, Heal Thyselves

13 years, 7 months ago

1754  0
Posted on Nov 07, 2005, 9 a.m. By Bill Freeman

As we reach middle age, our body starts to fail us. Brittle bones are more susceptible to breaking. Torn muscle is much slower to mend. Organs like the liver can become diseased and stop regenerating themselves. Can our body's natural self-repair mechanisms be reset though? UC Berkeley bioengineer Irina Conboy thinks so. She and her colleagues are developing an injectable nanomaterial that could potentially spur aged organs to heal themselves again.

As we reach middle age, our body starts to fail us. Brittle bones are more susceptible to breaking. Torn muscle is much slower to mend. Organs like the liver can become diseased and stop regenerating themselves. Can our body's natural self-repair mechanisms be reset though? UC Berkeley bioengineer Irina Conboy thinks so. She and her colleagues are developing an injectable nanomaterial that could potentially spur aged organs to heal themselves again.

"The regenerative properties of organs are tied to the behavior of stem cells," she says. "So I focus on what happens to those cells with aging. Why don't they work anymore and can we fix them?"

Stem cells are undifferentiated cells that can self-renew and differentiate into specialized cells of the organ or tissue in which they're found, a liver or muscle for example. Because adult stem cells can renew themselves, they're responsible for maintaining and repairing the tissue or organ.

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