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Stem Cell Technology and the Stem Cell Scaffold

written by: MandaSpring•edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski•updated: 12/10/2008

Stem cell research is a controversial topic in the medical arena. Explore the world of health care technology and learn more about the “Stem Cell Scaffold.”

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    Stem cell research is a controversial new science. Umbilical stem cells and adult stem cells have shown great promise in treating diabetes, among other diseases. The patient's own stem cells are the best source for regenerating damaged bone and tissue, since the chances of rejection are much greater if the stem cells come from another donor. Brazilian doctors successfully treated patients for diabetes, using their own stem cells.

    What Are Stem Cells

    Stem cells are the blue print for every biological life form. The can literally be “programmed” to create or rebuild damaged body parts perhaps one day eliminating the need for transplanting organs altogether. Research continues into the use of stem cells to treat everything from Alzheimer’s to spinal cord injuries. The human body has the capability of healing itself with the right technology, such as its own stem cells.

    How Does a Stem Cell Scaffold Work?

    Ravi Kane is a biological engineer at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. He’s the scientist who has designed the “Stem Cell Scaffold.” In order for the stem cells to do their job and rebuild damaged tissues, they have to be kept in place long enough for the process to work. Microspheres containing the stem cells are made of alginate (a carbohydrate that comes from brown seaweed) the stem cells are supported in the alginate because it is a biological product with less chance of rejection by the patient’s body. The microspheres can also be used to carry medications to assist in the stem cell regeneration process. Kane has added an ingredient of a carbohydrate eater like alginate lyase so that the scaffolding isn’t permanent. Once the job is done, the alginate lyase devours the alginate “This is a modular system.There’s still room in the scaffold to put other types of microspheres inside,” explains Ravi Kane. This new technology not only delivers the “goods” for better patient treatment, but can even clean up after itself!


    As scientific research and technology advance, many things will be possible that were only dreamed of in years gone by. Both adult and umbilical stem cells are showing great promise, thanks to the efforts of scientists like Ravi Kane. Biological engineering offers hope to the victims of many illnesses and injuries that were once considered hopeless. Stem cells and microspheres promises to provide new and exciting treatments for everything from diabetes to Alzheimer’s to bone and nerve damage.