In this article we discuss how human regeneration of limbs could be made possible with Nanotechnologies. We will discuss what Gold Nanoparticles are and how this can aid limb regeneration with stem cell technologies.
Stem cell technologies is still in its early days but it promises to transform the world in medical science. Scientists have a strong conviction that soon we will be able to turn on these regenerative abilities like we once had in our biological ancestral past. Or to reverse engineer what the salamander does so achieving the same outcome, and hopefully one day, the human regeneration of limbs.
Researchers are aiming to restore the function of limbs, organs and tissues that have been lost or damaged. The good news is that existence of what is known as ‘osteogenic differentiation’, meaning where cells can be made to differentiate into multiple different cells, is now greatly understood by Scientists.
There are two major challenges that need to be overcome with scientists in the field of regenerative medicine. First, to create tissues that will not be rejected by the patient’s immune system. Second, to create tissue ‘patches’ that allow signalling and conductivity to perform well in the body. The emerging new medical paradigm of integrating biology with Nanotechnologies is now greatly improving the prospects of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
What Is Gold Nanoparticles?
How do we define Nanotechnology? One of the challenges around Nanotechnologies is there seems to be a confusion around its definition. Many of the interpretations circulate around control and study of the phenomena with materials sizes below 10nm and make the comparison of human hair which is 80,000nm. Nm means Nanometer and as SI unit of length would be equal of 10(-9)m, which is a billionth of a meter.
According to the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) they provide the following definition:
“Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications. Encompassing nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, nanotechnology involves imaging, measuring, modelling, and manipulating matter at this length scale.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. A sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick; a single gold atom is about a third of a nanometer in diameter. Dimensions between approximately 1 and 100 nanometers are known as the nanoscale. Unusual physical, chemical, and biological properties can emerge in materials at the nanoscale. These properties may differ in important ways from the properties of bulk materials and single atoms or molecules.”
To understand the physical characteristics of Nanoparticles, which have unique properties due to their size, you can look at the following source which highlights:
“All nanoparticles regardless of their chemical constituents, have surface area:volume ratios that are extremely high… Thus, many of the physical properties of the nanoparticles such as solubility and stability are dominated by the…nature of the nanoparticle surface.” (Source: Gold Nanoparticles: Physical Properties)
Applying Nano-materials In Regenerative Medicine
Scientific investigators are now making scaffolds that can mimic the characteristics of a tissue growing environment. This is where tissues can be regenerated to grow into fully functioning organs, limbs and tissues. However, according to researchers, developing the technology for the manipulation of stem cell functions including proliferation and differentiation, is vital for success.
A new developing innovation at Tel Aviv University in Israel is taking place and Dr. Dvir at the Department of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, is inserting gold particles into cardiac tissues in improving the electrical signals in cells. One of the special properties of Gold Nanoparticles discussed above is their super conductivity, thus perhaps, overcoming some of the issues with signaling in regeneration.
Limb Regeneration And Nanotechnologies
I wrote a separate article that you can read here, about the research of Dr J. Goodwin from the Australia Regenerative Medical Institute (ARMI) at Monash University in Melbourne. He lead a preliminary research study into Salamander regeneration and the role that the immune system plays in limb regeneration. They observed by switching off what is know as ‘macrophages’, wiped out all regenerative capabilities of the salamander, resulting in a scar forming at the amputation site similar to humans and most animals. When switching these immune cells back on again and reopening the injured site the Salamander’s regeneration abilities came back and was able to regrow the limb back again.
As Professor Godwin says:
“We need to know exactly what salamanders do and how they do it well, so we can reverse-engineer that into human therapies.”
The truth is that Salamanders have this super healing regenerative abilities, and have the electrical cellular circuitry to allow it to happen, it means that one day, hopefully in our lifetimes, humans will be able to do the same.
With the help of Gold Nanoparticles discussed above this can greatly help to overcome some of the challenges with conductivity and signalling in the research of limb regeneration.