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World J Stem Cells. 2015 Jan 26;7(1):37-50. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i1.37.

Control of stem cell fate by engineering their micro and nanoenvironment.

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Michelle F Griffin, Peter E Butler, Alexander M Seifalian, Deepak M Kalaskar, UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science, Centre for Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine, University College London, London NW3 2PF, United Kingdom.


Stem cells are capable of long-term self-renewal and differentiation into specialised cell types, making them an ideal candidate for a cell source for regenerative medicine. The control of stem cell fate has become a major area of interest in the field of regenerative medicine and therapeutic intervention. Conventional methods of chemically inducing stem cells into specific lineages is being challenged by the advances in biomaterial technology, with evidence highlighting that material properties are capable of driving stem cell fate. Materials are being designed to mimic the clues stem cells receive in their in vivo stem cell niche including topographical and chemical instructions. Nanotopographical clues that mimic the extracellular matrix (ECM) in vivo have shown to regulate stem cell differentiation. The delivery of ECM components on biomaterials in the form of short peptides sequences has also proved successful in directing stem cell lineage. Growth factors responsible for controlling stem cell fate in vivo have also been delivered via biomaterials to provide clues to determine stem cell differentiation. An alternative approach to guide stem cells fate is to provide genetic clues including delivering DNA plasmids and small interfering RNAs via scaffolds. This review, aims to provide an overview of the topographical, chemical and molecular clues that biomaterials can provide to guide stem cell fate. The promising features and challenges of such approaches will be highlighted, to provide directions for future advancements in this exciting area of stem cell translation for regenerative medicine.


Biomaterials; Scaffold; Stem cells; Surface topography; Tissue engineering

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