Biomaterial Strategies to Bolster Neural Stem Cell-Mediated Repair of the Central Nervous System
Cells Tissues Organs
Stem cell therapies have the potential to not only repair, but to regenerate tissue of the central nervous system (CNS). Recent studies demonstrate that transplanted stem cells can differentiate into neurons and integrate with the intact circuitry after traumatic injury. Unfortunately, the positive findings described in rodent models have not been replicated in clinical trials, where the burden to maintain the cell viability necessary for tissue repair becomes more challenging. Low transplant
... rvival remains the greatest barrier to stem cell-mediated repair of the CNS, often with fewer than 1–2% of the transplanted cells remaining after 1 week. Strategic transplantation parameters, such as injection location, cell concentration, and transplant timing achieve only modest improvements in stem cell transplant survival and appear inconsistent across studies. Biomaterials provide researchers with a means to significantly improve stem cell transplant survival through two mechanisms: (1) a vehicle to deliver and protect the stem cells and (2) a substrate to control the cytotoxic injury environment. These biomaterial strategies can alleviate cell death associated with delivery to the injury and can be used to limit cell death after transplantation by limiting cell exposure to cytotoxic signals. Moreover, it is likely that control of the injury environment with biomaterials will lead to a more reliable support for transplanted cell populations. This review will highlight the challenges associated with cell delivery in the CNS and the advances in biomaterial development and deployment for stem cell therapies necessary to bolster stem cell-mediated repair.