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OSTEOCORD — Result In Brief

Project ID: 18999

Can we make bone from umbilical cord blood?

An EU-funded initiative isolated stem cells from umbilical cord blood for use in tissue engineering applications.
Can we make bone from umbilical cord blood?
Stem cells are rare, non-dividing cells that have the ability to self-renew and the unique capacity to differentiate to all cell types within a tissue. The intrinsic ability of stem cells to repair damaged tissue has attracted considerable interest for their therapeutic use.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are predominantly found in the bone marrow and are characterised by their ability to differentiate into chondrocytes, osteoblasts and adipocytes. This offers considerable potential for therapeutic applications in orthopaedic surgery. However, isolation of MSCs is an invasive procedure characterised by low cell yield, and thus demands alternative sources for the isolation of these cells.

The EU-funded 'Bone from blood: Optimised isolation, characterisation and osteogenic induction of mesenchymal stem cells from umbilical cord blood' (Osteocord) project focused on isolating and expanding MSCs from umbilical cord blood (UCB) as an alternative source to bone marrow. Project partners determined the growth characteristics of UCB MSCs and identified novel signalling pathways associated with these cells. They were able to grow MSCs on two-dimensional (2D) and 3D configurations in order to measure their electrochemical impedance characteristics.

MSCs are immune-privileged and immunosuppressive, allowing allogeneic transplantation without rejection. These important properties for cell therapy were also determined for UCB MSCs during the course of the study. Additionally, novel expansion techniques were combined with scale-up procedures and biocompatibility assays on 3D scaffolds, preparing UCB MSCs for use in the clinic.

The Osteocord project constituted an integrated approach for the in-depth study and characterisation of UCB MSCs for orthopaedic applications. Study results showed that these cells hold therapeutic promise in tissue engineering.

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