Stem cells, either neural [NSCs] or mesenchymal [MSCs], possess tremendous untapped potential for cell therapy. Unlike the NSCs, MSCs are multi-potent and they have high self-renewal capability and broad tissue distribution. Since they do not produce significant immune rejection on post-transplantation; they are better suited for cell-based therapies. However, several critical issues need to be addressed to maximize stem cell-derived therapeutic effects. The key factor affecting the therapeutic application of stem cells is exposure to hostile conditions in vivo such as oxidative stress, which results in considerably low survival rate of these cells at transplanted sites, thereby reducing the therapeutic efficiency. Such limitation has led scientists to design clinically relevant, innovative and multifaceted solutions including the use of nanobiomaterials. Use of cytocompatible nanobiomaterials holds great promise and has gained attention of researchers, worldwide. Various nanobiomaterials are being explored to increase the survival efficiency and direct differentiation of stem cells to generate tissue-specific cells for biomedical research and futuristic therapies. These materials have superior cytocompatability, mechanical, electrical, optical, catalytic and magnetic properties. Non-invasive visualization of the biological system has been developed using magnetic nanoparticles and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] approaches. Apart from viral vectors, non-viral carriers such as DNA nano carriers, single stranded RNA nanoparticles, liposomes and carbon nanotubes/wires are being exploited for gene delivery into stem cells. This article reviews potential application of various biocompatible nanomaterials in stem cell research and development.
Keywords: Biocompatibility, nanobiomaterials, stem cell differentiation, stem cells.