How seaweed benefits stem cells
Because of seaweed's incredible properties, it may give stem cells a viable future in medicine. A recent report from the journal STEM CELLS Translational Medicine details how seaweed can be a cost-effective solution to help stem cells become easier to handle and store, giving them a better chance at widespread application.
The research, led by Che Connon, a Professor of Tissue Engineering at Newcastle University, and Dr. Stephen Swioklo, discovered that the alginate gel surrounding seaweed protects them from environmental influences, such as temperature, which has often been a troubling factor in storing stem cells. In the past, stem cells have needed to be kept at 37 degrees Celsius in atmospheric oxygen and 5 percent carbon dioxide.
By encasing them in seaweed alginate gel, they're able to stay alive longer in ambient temperatures, and after a few days in the alginate encasing, 90 percent of the stem cells were still viable. Connon and Swioklo see this discovery having significant implications for wound healing, something alginate is already known to do.
"This has lots of advantages and applications," Connon said in a press release. "For example, we have used them to make a bandage which contains human stem cells which could be applied to a wound such as an ulcer or burn to speed up the healing process."
Seaweed's wound healing properties come from its antioxidant content. According to previous research by Newcastle University, seaweed actually has a higher antioxidant capacity than fruits and vegetables that withstands the digestion process, releasing a significant concentration into the gut lumen.
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