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Engineering Stem Cells For Future Medicine

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2 Author(s)
Leonardo Ricotti ; BioRobotics Institute, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pontedera, Italy ; Arianna Menciassi

Despite their great potential in regenerative medicine applications, stem cells (especially pluripotent ones) currently show a limited clinical success, partly due to a lack of biological knowledge, but also due to a lack of specific and advanced technological instruments able to overcome the current boundaries of stem cell functional maturation and safe/effective therapeutic delivery. This paper aims at describing recent insights, current limitations, and future horizons related to therapeutic stem cells, by analyzing the potential of different bioengineering disciplines in bringing stem cells toward a safe clinical use. First, we clarify how and why stem cells should be properly engineered and which could be in a near future the challenges and the benefits connected with this process. Second, we identify different routes toward stem cell differentiation and functional maturation, relying on chemical, mechanical, topographical, and direct/indirect physical stimulation. Third, we highlight how multiscale modeling could strongly support and optimize stem cell engineering. Finally, we focus on future robotic tools that could provide an added value to the extent of translating basic biological knowledge into clinical applications, by developing ad hoc enabling technologies for stem cell delivery and control.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering  (Volume:60 ,  Issue: 3 )