Last updateThu, 30 Nov 2023 2pm

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Improving ‘in vitro’ cell cultures for regenerative medicine

Biomaterials obtained through cell cultures are an excellent therapeutic strategy for the treatment of damaged tissues and organs. However, their obtention still presents handicaps. CSIC scientists have developed a method that boosts the collagen synthesis and can regulate the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells.


Osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells seeded on decellularized matrices from fibroblasts exposed to LOX/BMP1. Image: CSICThe scientific team, led by Fernando Rodriguez Pascual, a CSIC scientist at the Centro de Biología Molecular “Severo Ochoa”, in Madrid, has developed an extracellular matrix which boosts the collagen synthesis and can regulate the differentiation of Mesenchymal stem cells. These cells have the capacity to become several types of cells and tissues, such as bone or cartilage, among others.

The method has been developed and tested with fibroblast cultures, but it can be applied  to another type of cells which  can produce matrix components. The development, still an a experimental stage, has been patented. Now, industrial partners from the biotechnological industry are being sought to collaborate through a patent licence agreement.

What it is the extracellular matrix?

As Rodriguez Pascual explains, the extracellular matrix is, essentially, “the organic matter out of the cells in multicellular organisms; it is the molecular glue that keeps united the tissues, giving them shape and consistency“.

Extracellular matrix obtained by this new method has been tested as a substrate to grow  mesenchimal

stem cells, which can become bone or cartilage cells

The main elements of the extracellular matrix are collagen and elastin. For the production of new tissues, these components are firstly shyntesized by cells and, secondly, they are transported out of the cell, to the matrix. There they will be assembled  to form new cells and structures, which in turn will become bones, teeth, skin or blood vessels.

For obtaining biomaterials, in vitro cell cultures are designed to imitate the natural process, but it is not an easy goal. “It seems easy to maintain and grow the cells in cultures, expecting that they will do the job, but, as a matter of fact, this is a poor efficient process”, explain the scientists. “The reason is that some enzymatic molecules have low activity in the culture cells, such as the enzymes LOX and BMP1, which are essential for some changes in the collagen molecules”

The method developed by the CSIC team is based on adding these enzymes into fibroblast cultures, which would increase substantially the collagen production in the extracellular matrix.

The extracellular matrix obtained by this new method has been tested as a substrate to grow and differentiate mesenchymal stem cells, which have the capacity to become bone or cartilage cells, and which could be used for regenerating tissues with malformations or injured.

This method could help to improve and accelerate the processes for obtaining biomaterials and their use in regenerative medicine.


Eva Gabaldón Sahuquillo
Deputy Vice-Presidency
for Knowledge Transfer, CSIC
Tel.: +34 91 568 1550
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.