The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: Targeting stem cells with nanoparticles

Currently Active: 
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Promoting tissue regeneration by carrying drugs and molecules directly to stem cells.

Project Overview

Liposomes under transmission electron microscope
Liposomes under TEM

When we are injured, suffer disease or get older, our organs and tissues become damaged and dysfunctional. To try and promote the regeneration of our tissues, we’re trying to deliver drugs to specific cells in tissues called stem cells.

A differentiating cell

We’re doing this by designing tiny nanoparticles – just 1/1000th the width of a single human hair in diameter – that can carry a variety of proteins and compounds. We know that a molecular pathway called the Wnt pathway is particularly important in controlling how stem cells divide and differentiate. However, the same pathway can have potentially detrimental effects on other cell types.

Measuring liposome size

To make sure that molecules and drugs are carried only to stem cells, we are ‘tagging’ our drug carriers with molecular flags that are only recognised and taken up by specific cell types. Ultimately we hope that this technology can be used to treat injury and degenerative disease in bones and the skin.

Associated research themes

Bioengineering and human factors

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics

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