Special Issue

Nanoparticles-based Monitoring of Stem Cell Therapy

Guest editors:

Chenjie Xu, PhD
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology
Department of Medicine
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard Medical School
PRB 313, 65 Landsdowne Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Weian Zhao, Ph.D.
Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center,
Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center,
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697

Stem cells including embryonic stem cells and non-embryonic adult stem cells are unspecialized cells capable of both renewing through cell division and differentiating to tissue/organ specific cells with special functions. Advancements in stem cell research reveal the great potentials of stem cells to change the face of human disease and alleviate suffering (e.g. cancer, heart disease, and diabetes). Over the past 50 years, several effective stem cell therapies have been developed. For example, in 1956, the first successful bone marrow-derived stem cell transplant was performed on a leukemia patient by Dr. Donnall Thomas in New York. Currently, thousands of clinical trials around the world involve some form of stem cell therapy. While preclinical results have been promising, few approaches have become the standard medical practices. This is likely in part due to the lack of a comprehensive understanding of the fate of transplanted cells, their distribution after injection, and level of engraftment in local microenvironments. Traditionally, monitoring of therapies is conducted by histological analysis, which is laborious and invasive requiring multiple tissue biopsies. Non-invasive imaging methods are urgently needed for qualitative and quantitative monitoring of transplanted stem cells.

Recently, approaches using available imaging techniques, particularly optical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and radionuclide imaging, have been utilized for tracking transplanted stem cells. Contrast agents are typically used to distinguish the transplanted stem cells from the background of the host tissue. Although small molecules such as gadolinium-tetraazacyclododecanetetraacetic acid, an MRI contrast agent, and 18F-flurodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG), a positron emission tomography (PET) contrast agent have been widely used in both research and clinical settings for stem cell tracking. Nanoparticles (NPs) are receiving increased attention as next-generation labeling agents because of their unique properties. NPs can be readily designed and prepared to include an array of properties including magnetic and optical scattering, absorption or luminescence for use with multiple imaging modalities. In addition, their surface can also be easily conjugated with targeting moieties without changing the physical properties, making it feasible for stem cell labeling in vitro or selective labeling in vivo.

In this special issue, we would like to discuss the latest developments in NPs-based monitoring of stem cell therapy. Particularly, review/research/perspective articles related to the following topics are encouraged to be submitted:

  • Preparation of novel nanoparticle formulas for stem cell labeling and tracking.
  • Studies on the influence of nanoparticle labeling over the properties of stem cells.
  • Stem cell trafficking with NPs-based imaging probes.
  • Monitoring of the therapeutic effects in stem cell therapy with NPs-based probes.

Manuscripts may be submitted directly to the guest editors or online at http://www.thno.org/ms/submit?subgroup=stemcell, with the subject heading: “Stem Cell Special Issue”.

Detailed formatting instructions, in particular, the formatting of references, can be found in http://www.thno.org/ms/author.

All inquiries should be sent to the guest editor(s) at the above email address.