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Photosynthetic Mammalian Cells Slow Degenerative Disease

Date: 9.12.2022 

Researchers have generated photosynthetic mammalian cells by transplanting essential components of plant-derived chloroplasts into chondrocytes. When transplanted into degenerating chondrocytes in mice with osteoarthritis, the light-responsive system drives anabolism, preventing disease progression.

Hydrodictyon. Kredit: NEON_ja / Wikimedia Commons.Not only does this strategy demonstrate clinical utility, it can treat a wide range of degenerative diseases by using membrane coatings made from different types of mature mammalian cells. It also has implications for generating biofuels and biomaterials. “We think that this work demonstrates that even relatively limited artificial modification of natural biomaterials can achieve specific functions for various applications,” wrote first author Pengfei Chen and senior author Xianfeng Lin in a corresponding research briefing.

To increase the supply of ATP and NADPH in animal cells, the Zhejiang University School of Medicine researchers created nanoscale structures from chloroplasts known as nanothylakoid units (NTUs). To overcome immune surveillance, they showed that it is possible and useful to transplant NTUs coated in a membrane of the target cell population. The researchers showed that transplantation of NTUs to dysfunctional chondrocytes recovered anabolism. Moreover, transplantation of NTUs into chondrocytes in mice with osteoarthritis prevented disease progression.

The strategy is also not just limited to chondrocytes and has broad clinical application. In principle, it is generalizable because of the interchangeable coating strategy and, therefore, could be used to treat a wide range of degenerative diseases. “We hope to conduct early-stage clinical trials to test the effects of NTUs in degenerative diseases,” wrote the authors.

Image source: NEON_ja / Wikimedia Commons.




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