Nanotubes help adult stem cells morph into neurons in brain-damaged rats. When used alone, adult stem cells migrated to healthy areas of the brain. But when combined with nanotubes, adult stem cells not only remained in the brain-damaged regions, they began to differentiate into functioning neurons. The finding could have important implications for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders.
Nanostructures promote formation of blood vessels, bolster cardiovascular function after heart attack – Injecting nanoparticles into the hearts of mice that suffered heart attacks helped restore cardiovascular function in these animals. The self-assembling nanoparticles – made from naturally occurring polysaccharides and molecules known as peptide amphiphiles – boost chemical signals to nearby cells that induce formation of new blood vessels and this may be the mechanism through which they restore cardiovascular function. One month later, the hearts of the treated mice were capable of contracting and pumping blood almost as well as healthy mice. In contrast, the hearts of untreated mice contracted about 50 percent less than normal. In other recent studies using a similar technique, Stupp and his colleagues found nanoparticles hastened wound healing in rabbits and, after islet transplantation, cured diabetes in mice. Nanoparticles with other chemical compositions accelerate bone repair in rats and promote the growth of neurons in mice and rats with spinal cord injuries.