Nanoscale kicking technique could reverse effects of paralyzing condition

23/01/2019

Nanoscale kicking technique could reverse effects of paralyzing condition

Tiny vibrations could be harnessed to create healthy bone from stem cells, potentially reversing the effects of a paralyzing condition which affects more than three million people in the UK.

Scientists at the University of Strathclyde, supported by UKRI’s Science and Technology Facilities Council, are leading a study to apply ‘nanokicking’ technology to slowing down and reversing the effects of the condition disuse osteoporosis.

The condition is estimated to lead to about 500,000 broken bones every year, affecting paralysed patients whose bones become more prone to fractures as a result of insufficient use of their limbs.

But researchers led by Professor Stuart Reid and Dr Sylvie Coupaud at the University of Strathclyde now believe ‘nanokicking’, which can be used to control the behaviour of adult stem cells through precise nanoscale vibrations could be used to turn stem cells into bone cells. The technology is based on the laser interferometer systems designed in the UK for the Nobel Prize-winning detection of gravitational waves and builds on research by Professor Reid and Professor Matthew Dalby at the University of Glasgow that was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Professor Reid, co-inventor of ‘nanokicking’ technology, said: “These precise nanoscale vibrations have been shown to control the behaviour of adult stem cells which can then be used to start the growth of bone in the laboratory from a patient's own cells."

Through the study, supported with £350,000 of support from STFC, researchers will now apply the same type of vibrations they have been applying to single cells to patient’s legs, with 15 volunteer patients from the National Spinal Injuries Unit based at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow invited to take part over the next two years.

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “Osteoporosis can be a devastating condition for the three million people that suffer from it across the UK. This research shows enormous promise of slowing down and even reversing the disease.

“The Government’s modern Industrial Strategy aims to harness medical innovations to help people have the most advanced treatment and meet the needs of our ageing society.”

For more information visit the STFC website.


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