Pruitt Family Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Christine E. Schmidt, is a co-author of a manuscript highlighted as one of the cover features for a recent issue of Macromolecular Rapid Communications. Macromolecular Rapid Communications (Impact Factor = 4.941) is a well-known biweekly peer-reviewed scientific journal from Wiley-VCH covering the field of polymer science. Schmidt’s co-authors include Dr. David Kaplan of Tufts University, Dr. John Hardy who is now at Lancaster University, and student researchers from the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Austin.
The manuscript entitled “Electrical Stimulation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells on Conductive Nanofibers Enhances their Differentiation toward Osteogenic Outcomes,” focused on pro regenerative biomaterials for the treatment of bone conditions and disorders that require surgical intervention. Bone tissue is a complex mixture of inorganic and organic matter, with high levels of calcium phosphate and the protein collagen. The goal of the research described in this manuscript was to develop conductive fiber-based bone tissue scaffolds — nonwoven mats of electrospun polycaprolactone with an interpenetrating network of polypyrrole and polystyrenesulfonate — that enable electrical stimulation of tissues and cells. Electrical stimulation using the conductive fiber mats was shown to coax human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow toward osteogenic outcomes.
The image for the cover is an artistic impression of the effect of electrically stimulating stem cells taken from bone marrow (at 0.1 Volts per millimeter), showing that electrical stimulation encourages the cells to produce elevated levels of the enzyme alkaline phosphatase and collagen, and the deposition of calcium, which represent important steps towards the generation of bone-like tissue.