About this Research Topic
Cell-based therapy has become the most important and promising treatment for many biomedical fields, such as regenerative therapy and cancer immunotherapy. Specifically, stem cells can be directly collected from patients, culture, and concentrate, and then be transplanted back to generate tissues and organs. However, these cells are not always efficient in performing their tasks after injection, e.g., losing stemness or inducing immune rejection; this prevents its widespread application. Cell therapy has recently been empowered by combining with biomaterials for isolating stem cells with host tissue to address challenges, such as off-target delivery, and immune rejection. However, materials-based cell therapy remains unclear in its details, such as the effect of microenvironmental cues to cells, the role of the biomaterials in cell therapy, and cell responsiveness to the material in vivo. Therefore, it remains imperative to address these problems in order to advance cell-based therapy in the field of precision medicine.
The major hurdle for current cell therapy includes low viability and metabolic activity upon material encapsulation, loss of biological function after transplantation, and incapability to steer cell fate. Questions remaining to be addressed include:
i) how to maintain stemness while culturing in vitro
ii) how to induce differentiation in vivo
iii) how to determine stem cell interaction with the other cell and the extracellular matrix
iv) how to manipulate stem cells through biomaterials
v) how to stimulate the stem cell
vi) identifying the signal pathway through cell membrane to protein expression.
Since this entire study needs to be performed at the microscopic scale, new technologies and new functional materials that can improve the therapeutic effects of cell therapy form the central focus of this Research Topic. At the same time, new detection techniques will also be covered in this article collection.
The aim of this Research Topic is to cover promising recent and novel research trends in biomaterials for cell-related therapy. It may include (but is not limited to) the following themes:
• Synthesis and design of hydrogel-based biomaterials for cell encapsulation
• Design of novel approaches and synthesis of novel materials for controlling cell response to its external environment
• “Smart” biomaterials for disease detection
• Novel assays to determine the cell-protein response
• Challenges for advanced biomaterials in stem cell therapy and immune cell therapy
Keywords: functional biomaterials, cell therapy, stem cell fate, external environmental cues
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