With their two key features – capacity for indefinite proliferation (self-renewal) and ability to give rise to different cell types (potency) – stem cells have fascinated scientists since the late nineteenth century. In addition to embryonic and adult stem cells, mature cells can be reprogrammed to act as stem cells, the so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), a finding that received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012. With the discovery of iPS cells, research into utilization of stem cells for understanding developmental processes, disease mechanisms, and for drug discovery and cell-based therapies such as regenerative medicine has gained momentum. However, before stem cells can be used efficiently, there are still a number of obstacles, such as regulation of stem cell behavior and long-term maintenance of “stemness”, which must be overcome. A significant contribution to this end comes from materials science, whereby biomaterial scaffolds, cell culture and encapsulation technologies as well as engineering stem cells and matrices provide the means to regulate stem cell responses. Progress in these fields also advances stem cell-based therapies such as regeneration of cardiac, neural, and orthopedic tissues.
Advanced Healthcare Materials covers different aspects of stem cell research and therapies with a focus on biomaterials. We have assembled this virtual issue to highlight some of the excellent research being published in this field. All articles are currently freely available for everybody to access, download, and read until the end of 2018.
Perry T. Yin, Edward Han and Ki-Bum Lee
Original research articles:
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