Designing Biomaterials To Direct Stem Cell Fate

by Chaenyung Cha, William B. Liechty, Ali Khademhosseini, and Nicholas A. Peppas

ACS Nano 2012 6 (11), 9353-9358

As stem cells are a cornerstone of regenerative medicine, research efforts have been extensively focused on controlling their self-renewal and differentiation. It is well-known that stem cells are tightly regulated by a combination of physical and chemical factors from their complex extracellular surroundings; thus, conventional cell culture approaches based purely on using soluble factors to direct stem cell fate have resulted in limited success. To account for the complexities of native stem-cell niches, biomaterials are actively investigated as artificial extracellular matrices in order to mimic the natural microenvironment. This Perspective highlights important areas related to the design of biomaterials to control stem cell behavior, such as cell-responsive ligands, mechanical signals, and delivery of soluble factors.

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