Dr. Sriraam

Stems cells isolated and turned to Nerve Cells!

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For the first time in the country the stem cell research group at the Sri Ramachandra University (SRU) in Chennai has isolated stem cells from human gum tissue and turned them into nerve cells. Currently, these stem cells are being tried in spinal cord injury in animals at the SRU, sources from the university informed.
The team of researchers headed by Dr R Suresh, Professor and head of periodontology, and research scholars S Rajasekharan and M G Dinesh, isolated stem cells from human gum tissue, placed them in hydrogel scaffold, turning them into nerve cells. This research work was published in the international journal “Experimental Molecular Medicine” in February 2016, which says that this laboratory work has high potential for future use in spinal cord injury. Presently, the stem cells are being tried in spinal cord injury model in animals, sources said.
Stem cells are very essential to heal the injured part of the body to its original form and function. The last three decades have seen a tremendous advancement in stem cell therapy. Many a times wound heal by what is called as repair, is a compromised healing. Stem cells aid in regenerating to original form. But there is a limitation on procuring ideal potent cells and gingiva (gum) fills the gap. Gum has tremendous healing capacity and they heal without scar. Hence we wanted to observe if the gum has stem cells and to analyse their nature, said Dr Suresh.
The research wing at SRU, within last one year, grew stem cells after obtaining gum tissue from humans. After certain period of time they were able to separate stem cells from gum tissue. By using specific identification markers they confirmed the cells as stem cells.
“At this juncture we obtained hydrogel scaffold from Dr A Gnanamani, principal scientist & head of microbiology division and  S T K Raja, research associate from CLRI, Adayar, Chennai and grew the gum stem cells on the scaffold. With the addition of certain proteins, we were able to make the stem cells turn into nerve cells. We again confirmed the nature of the cells by staining them with specific markers,” the doctor added.
He further said the research team is now working on different properties of these gum stem cells and also ways of regenerating tooth support structures. The Chancellor of the University, V R Venkataachalam is sponsoring the project.

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