A new biomaterial that enhances the ability of stem cells to regenerate into nerves and body parts has been developed by Australian and British scientists.
The work was a result of a joint study undertaken by the researchers at the Melbourne-based Monash University and UK-based University of Warwick.
Other biomedical "scaffold" materials, which act as templates for tissue regeneration, already exist but they cannot communicate effectively with the cells they are trying to influence.
The researchers have created a more advanced material that targets specific cells and provides clear signals to these cells to enhance regeneration.
The biomaterial also dissolves once repair is well underway and its stealth coating makes it invisible to the immune system.
John Forsythe from the Department of Materials Engineering at Monash said this research idea resulted from a workshop he attended at Warwick in 2012.
"I first met Warwick's Associate Professor Andrew Dove at the workshop, where we discussed the need for more effective scaffolding materials for regenerative medicine," Forsythe said.
"Warwick has the specialised facilities and knowledge to synthesise these materials, whereas Monash has the expertise in nanofabrication and applying them to biomedical research, so together we have very complementary strengths," he said.
"Now we have developed this material, the next stage is to conduct further research to determine its effectiveness in models of Parkinson's disease."
This research was published last month in Polymer Chemistry. The team hopes to publish further work on this project later in the year.