Today, articular cartilage damage is a major health problem, affecting people of all ages. The existing conventional articular cartilage repair techniques, such as autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), microfracture, and mosaicplasty, have many shortcomings which negatively affect their clinical outcomes. Therefore, it is essential to develop an alternative and efficient articular repair technique that can address those shortcomings. Cartilage tissue engineering, which aims to create a tissue-engineered cartilage derived from human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), shows great promise for improving articular cartilage defect therapy. However, the use of tissue-engineered cartilage for the clinical therapy of articular cartilage defect still remains challenging. Despite the importance of mechanical loading to create a functional cartilage has been well demonstrated, the specific type of mechanical loading and its optimal loading regime is still under investigation. This review summarizes the most recent advances in the effects of mechanical loading on human MSCs. First, the existing conventional articular repair techniques and their shortcomings are highlighted. The important parameters for the evaluation of the tissue-engineered cartilage, including chondrogenic and hypertrophic differentiation of human MSCs are briefly discussed. The influence of mechanical loading on human MSCs is subsequently reviewed and the possible mechanotransduction signaling is highlighted. The development of non-hypertrophic chondrogenesis in response to the changing mechanical microenvironment will aid in the establishment of a tissue-engineered cartilage for efficient articular cartilage repair.
Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), a type of adult stem cells that hold great potential in clinical applications (e.g., regenerative medicine and cell-based therapy) due to their ability to differentiate into multiple types of specialized cells and secrete soluble factors which can initiate tissue repair and regulate immune response. hMSCs need to be expanded in vitro or cryopreserved to obtain sufficient cell numbers required for clinical applications. However, long-term in vitro culture-expanded hMSCs may raise some biosafety concerns (e.g., chromosomal abnormality and malignant transformation) and compromised functional properties, limiting their use in clinical applications. To avoid those adverse effects, it is essential to cryopreserve hMSCs at early passage and pool them for off-the-shelf use in clinical applications. However, the existing cryopreservation methods for hMSCs have some notable limitations. To address these limitations, several approaches have to be taken in order to produce healthy and efficacious cryopreserved hMSCs for clinical trials, which remains challenging to date. Therefore, a noteworthy amount of resources has been utilized in research in optimization of the cryopreservation methods, development of freezing devices, and formulation of cryopreservation media to ensure that hMSCs maintain their therapeutic characteristics without raising biosafety concerns following cryopreservation. Biobanking of hMSCs would be a crucial strategy to facilitate clinical applications in the future.
Human adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hASCs) are an ideal cell source for regenerative medicine due to their capabilities of multipotency and the readily accessibility of adipose tissue. They have been found residing in a relatively low oxygen tension microenvironment in the body, but the physiological condition has been overlooked in most studies. In light of the escalating need for culturing hASCs under their physiological condition, this review summarizes the most recent advances in the hypoxia effect on hASCs. We first highlight the advantages of using hASCs in regenerative medicine and discuss the influence of hypoxia on the phenotype and functionality of hASCs in terms of viability, stemness, proliferation, differentiation, soluble factor secretion, and biosafety. We provide a glimpse of the possible cellular mechanism that involved under hypoxia and discuss the potential clinical applications. We then highlight the existing challenges and discuss the future perspective on the use of hypoxic-treated hASCs.
Lateral flow assays (LFAs) have currently attracted broad interest for point-of-care (POC) diagnostics, but their application has been restricted by poor quantification and limited sensitivity. While the former has been currently solved to some extent by the development of handheld or smartphone-based readers, the latter has not been addressed fully, particularly the potential influences of environmental conditions (e.g., temperature and relative humidity (RH)), which have not yet received serious attention. The present study reports the use of a portable temperature-humidity control device to provide an optimum environmental requirement for sensitivity improvement in LFAs, followed by quantification by using a smartphone. We found that a RH beyond 60% with temperatures of 55-60°C and 37-40°C produced optimum nucleic acid hybridization and antigen-antibody interaction in LFAs, respectively representing a 10-fold and 3-fold signal enhancement over ambient conditions (25°C, 60% RH). We envision that in the future the portable device could be coupled with a fully integrated paper-based sample-to-answer biosensor for sensitive detection of various target analytes in POC settings.
Lateral flow assays (LFAs) have been extensively explored in nucleic acid testing (NAT) for medical diagnostics, food safety analysis and environmental monitoring. However, the amount of target nucleic acid in a raw sample is usually too low to be directly detected by LFAs, necessitating the process of amplification. Even though cost-effective paper-based amplification techniques have been introduced, they have always been separately performed from LFAs, hence increasing the risk of reagent loss and cross-contaminations. To date, integrating paper-based nucleic acid amplification into colorimetric LFA in a simple, portable and cost-effective manner has not been introduced. Herein, we developed an integrated LFA with the aid of a specially designed handheld battery-powered system for effective amplification and detection of targets in resource-poor settings. Interestingly, using the integrated paper-based loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP)-LFA, we successfully performed highly sensitive and specific target detection, achieving a detection limit of as low as 3 × 10(3) copies of target DNA, which is comparable to the conventional tube-based LAMP-LFA in an unintegrated format. The device may serve in conjunction with a simple paper-based sample preparation to create a fully integrated paper-based sample-to-answer diagnostic device for point-of-care testing (POCT) in the near future.
Dengue endemic is a serious healthcare concern in tropical and subtropical countries. Although well-established laboratory tests can provide early diagnosis of acute dengue infections, access to these tests is limited in developing countries, presenting an urgent need to develop simple, rapid, and robust diagnostic tools. Point-of-care (POC) devices, particularly paper-based POC devices, are typically rapid, cost-effective and user-friendly, and they can be used as diagnostic tools for the prompt diagnosis of dengue at POC settings. Here, we review the importance of rapid dengue diagnosis, current dengue diagnostic methods, and the development of paper-based POC devices for diagnosis of dengue infections at the POC.
Nucleic acid testing (NAT), as a molecular diagnostic technique, including nucleic acid extraction, amplification and detection, plays a fundamental role in medical diagnosis for timely medical treatment. However, current NAT technologies require relatively high-end instrumentation, skilled personnel, and are time-consuming. These drawbacks mean conventional NAT becomes impractical in many resource-limited disease-endemic settings, leading to an urgent need to develop a fast and portable NAT diagnostic tool. Paper-based devices are typically robust, cost-effective and user-friendly, holding a great potential for NAT at the point of care. In view of the escalating demand for the low cost diagnostic devices, we highlight the beneficial use of paper as a platform for NAT, the current state of its development, and the existing challenges preventing its widespread use. We suggest a strategy involving integrating all three steps of NAT into one single paper-based sample-to-answer diagnostic device for rapid medical diagnostics in the near future.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) hold many advantages over embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and other somatic cells in clinical applications. MSCs are multipotent cells with strong immunosuppressive properties. They can be harvested from various locations in the human body (e.g., bone marrow and adipose tissues). Cryopreservation represents an efficient method for the preservation and pooling of MSCs, to obtain the cell counts required for clinical applications, such as cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine. Upon cryopreservation, it is important to preserve MSCs functional properties including immunomodulatory properties and multilineage differentiation ability. Further, a biosafety evaluation of cryopreserved MSCs is essential prior to their clinical applications. However, the existing cryopreservation methods for MSCs are associated with notable limitations, leading to a need for new or improved methods to be established for a more efficient application of cryopreserved MSCs in stem cell-based therapies. We review the important parameters for cryopreservation of MSCs and the existing cryopreservation methods for MSCs. Further, we also discuss the challenges to be addressed in order to preserve MSCs effectively for clinical applications.
An outstanding amount of resources has been used in research on manipulation of human stem cells, especially mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), for various clinical applications. However, human MSCs have not been fully utilized in clinical applications due to restrictions with regard to their certain biosafety and bioefficacy concerns, for example, genetic abnormality, tumor formation, induction of host immune response and failure of homing and engraftment. This review summarizes the biosafety and bioefficacy assessment of human MSCs in terms of genetic stability, tumorigenicity, immunogenicity, homing and engraftment. The strategies used to reduce the biosafety concerns and improve the bioefficacy of human MSCs are highlighted. In addition, the approaches that can be implemented to improve their biosafety and bioefficacy assessment are briefly discussed.
Point-of-care biosensors are important tools developed to aid medical diagnosis and testing, food safety and environmental monitoring. Paper-based biosensors, especially nucleic acid-based lateral flow assays (LFA), are affordable, simple to produce and easy to use in remote settings. However, the sensitivity of such assays to infectious diseases has always been a restrictive challenge. Here, we have successfully electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) on nitrocellulose (NC) membrane to form a hydrophobic coating to reduce the flow rate and increase the interaction rate between the targets and gold nanoparticles-detecting probes conjugates, resulting in the binding of more complexes to the capture probes. With this approach, the sensitivity of the PCL electrospin-coated test strip has been increased by approximately ten-fold as compared to the unmodified test strip. As a proof of concept, this approach holds great potential for sensitive detection of targets at point-of-care testing.
Cryopreservation is the only existing method of storage of human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) for clinical use. However, cryopreservation has been shown to be detrimental to ASCs, particularly in term of cell viability. To restore the viability of cryopreserved ASCs, it is proposed to culture the cells in a hypoxic condition. To this end, we aim to investigate the effect of hypoxia on the cryopreserved human ASCs in terms of not only cell viability, but also their growth and stemness properties, which have not been explored yet. In this study, human ASCs were cultured under four different conditions: fresh (non-cryopreserved) cells cultured in 1) normoxia (21% O2) and 2) hypoxia (2% O2) and cryopreserved cells cultured in 3) normoxia and 4) hypoxia. ASCs at passage 3 were subjected to assessment of viability, proliferation, differentiation, and expression of stemness markers and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α). We found that hypoxia enhances the viability and the proliferation rate of cryopreserved ASCs. Further, hypoxia upregulates HIF-1α in cryopreserved ASCs, which in turn activates chondrogenic genes to promote chondrogenic differentiation. In conclusion, hypoxic-preconditioned cryopreserved ASCs could be an ideal cell source for cartilage repair and regeneration.
Electrospun polycaprolactone (PCL) nanofibers have emerged as a promising material in diverse biomedical applications due to their various favorable features. However, their application in the field of biosensors such as point-of-care lateral flow assays (LFA) has not been investigated. The present study demonstrates the use of electrospun PCL nanofibers as a reaction membrane for LFA. Electrospun PCL nanofibers were treated with NaOH solution for different concentrations and durations to achieve a desirable flow rate and optimum detection sensitivity in nucleic acid-based LFA. It was observed that the concentration of NaOH does not affect the physical properties of nanofibers, including average fiber diameter, average pore size and porosity. However, interestingly, a significant reduction of the water contact angle was observed due to the generation of hydroxyl and carboxyl groups on the nanofibers, which increased their hydrophilicity. The optimally treated nanofibers were able to detect synthetic Zika viral DNA (as a model analyte) sensitively with a detection limit of 0.5 nM. Collectively, the benefits such as low-cost of fabrication, ease of modification, porous nanofibrous structures and tunability of flow rate make PCL nanofibers a versatile alternative to nitrocellulose membrane in LFA applications. This material offers tremendous potential for a broad range of point-of-care applications.
Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) have been found adapted to a specific niche with low oxygen tension (hypoxia) in the body. As an important component of this niche, oxygen tension has been known to play a critical role in the maintenance of stem cell characteristics. However, the effect of O2 tension on their functional properties has not been well determined. In this study, we investigated the effects of O2 tension on ASCs stemness, differentiation and proliferation ability. Human ASCs were cultured under normoxia (21% O2) and hypoxia (2% O2). We found that hypoxia increased ASC stemness marker expression and proliferation rate without altering their morphology and surface markers. Low oxygen tension further enhances the chondrogenic differentiation ability, but reduces both adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation potential. These results might be correlated with the increased expression of HIF-1α under hypoxia. Taken together, we suggest that growing ASCs under 2% O2 tension may be important in expanding ASCs effectively while maintaining their functional properties for clinical therapy, particularly for the treatment of cartilage defects.
Lateral flow assays (LFAs) hold great promise for point-of-care testing, especially in resource-poor settings. However, the poor sensitivity of LFAs limits their widespread applications. To address this, we developed a novel device by integrating dialysis-based concentration method into LFAs. The device successfully achieved 10-fold signal enhancement in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) nucleic acid detection with a detection limit of 0.1nM and 4-fold signal enhancement in myoglobin (MYO) detection with a detection limit of 1.56ng/mL in less than 25min. This simple, low-cost and portable integrated device holds great potential for highly sensitive detection of various target analytes for medical diagnostics, food safety analysis and environmental monitoring.
Paper-based devices have been broadly used for the point-of-care detection of dengue viral nucleic acids due to their simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and readily observable colorimetric readout. However, their moderate sensitivity and functionality have limited their applications. Despite the above-mentioned advantages, paper substrates are lacking in their ability to control fluid flow, in contrast to the flow control enabled by polymer substrates (e.g., agarose) with readily tunable pore size and porosity. Herein, taking the benefits from both materials, the authors propose a strategy to create a hybrid substrate by incorporating agarose into the test strip to achieve flow control for optimal biomolecule interactions. As compared to the unmodified test strip, this strategy allows sensitive detection of targets with an approximately tenfold signal improvement. Additionally, the authors showcase the potential of functionality improvement by creating multiple test zones for semi-quantification of targets, suggesting that the number of visible test zones is directly proportional to the target concentration. The authors further demonstrate the potential of their proposed strategy for clinical assessment by applying it to their prototype sample-to-result test strip to sensitively and semi-quantitatively detect dengue viral RNA from the clinical blood samples. This proposed strategy holds significant promise for detecting various targets for diverse future applications.
The need to have a better and safer culture condition for expansion of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) is crucial particularly to prevent infection and immune rejection. This is normally associated with the use of animal-based serum in the culture media for cell expansion. The aim of this study is to investigate alternative culture conditions which may provide better and safer environment for cell growth. In the present study, human adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) at passage 3 were subjected to treatment in 4 conditions: (1) 21 % O2 with fetal bovine serum (FBS), (2) 21 % O2 without FBS, (3) 2 % O2 with FBS and (4) 2 % O2 without FBS followed by subsequent analysis of their phenotype, viability and functionality. We observed that ASCs cultured in all conditions present no significant phenotypic changes. It was found that ASCs cultured in 2 % O2 without serum showed an increase in viability and growth to a certain extent when compared to those cultured in 21 % O2 without serum. However, ASCs cultured in 2 % O2 without serum displayed a relatively low adipogenic and osteogenic potential. On the other hand, interestingly, there was a positive enhancement in chondrogenic differentiation of ASCs cultured in 21 % O2 without serum. Our findings suggest that different culture conditions may be suitable for different indications. In summary, ASCs cultured in serum-free condition can still survive, proliferate and undergo subsequent adipogenic, osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation. Therefore, FBS is feasible to be excluded for culture of ASCs, which avoids clinical complications.
Adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (ASCs) natively reside in a relatively low-oxygen tension (i.e., hypoxic) microenvironment in human body. Low oxygen tension (i.e., in situ normoxia), has been known to enhance the growth and survival rate of ASCs, which, however, may lead to the risk of tumourigenesis. Here, we investigated the tumourigenic potential of ASCs under their physiological condition to ensure their safe use in regenerative therapy. Human ASCs isolated from subcutaneous fat were cultured in atmospheric O2 concentration (21% O2) or in situ normoxia (2% O2). We found that ASCs retained their surface markers, tri-lineage differentiation potential, and self-renewal properties under in situ normoxia without altering their morphology. In situ normoxia displayed a higher proliferation and viability of ASCs with less DNA damage as compared to atmospheric O2 concentration. Moreover, low oxygen tension significantly up-regulated VEGF and bFGF mRNA expression and protein secretion while reducing the expression level of tumour suppressor genes p16, p21, p53, and pRb. However, there were no significant differences in ASCs telomere length and their relative telomerase activity when cultured at different oxygen concentrations. Collectively, even with high proliferation and survival rate, ASCs have a low tendency of developing tumour under in situ normoxia. These results suggest 2% O2 as an ideal culture condition for expanding ASCs efficiently while maintaining their characteristics.
In nucleic acid testing (NAT), gold nanoparticle (AuNP)-based lateral flow assays (LFAs) have received significant attention due to their cost-effectiveness, rapidity, and the ability to produce a simple colorimetric readout. However, the poor sensitivity of AuNP-based LFAs limits its widespread applications. Even though various efforts have been made to improve the assay sensitivity, most methods are inappropriate for integration into LFA for sample-to-answer NAT at the point-of-care (POC), usually due to the complicated fabrication processes or incompatible chemicals used. To address this, we propose a novel strategy of integrating a simple fluidic control strategy into LFA. The strategy involves incorporating a piece of paper-based shunt and a polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) barrier to the strip to achieve optimum fluidic delays for LFA signal enhancement, resulting in 10-fold signal enhancement over unmodified LFA. The phenomena of fluidic delay were also evaluated by mathematical simulation, through which we found the movement of fluid throughout the shunt and the tortuosity effects in the presence of PDMS barrier, which significantly affect the detection sensitivity. To demonstrate the potential of integrating this strategy into a LFA with sample-in-answer-out capability, we further applied this strategy into our prototype sample-to-answer LFA to sensitively detect the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) in clinical blood samples. The proposed strategy offers great potential for highly sensitive detection of various targets for wide application in the near future.
In recent years, paper-based point-of-care testing (POCT) has been widely used in medical diagnostics, food safety and environmental monitoring. However, a high-cost, time-consuming and equipment-dependent sample pretreatment technique is generally required for raw sample processing, which are impractical for low-resource and disease-endemic areas. Therefore, there is an escalating demand for a cost-effective, simple and portable pretreatment technique, to be coupled with the commonly used paper-based assay (e.g. lateral flow assay) in POCT. In this review, we focus on the importance of using paper as a platform for sample pretreatment. We firstly discuss the beneficial use of paper for sample pretreatment, including sample collection and storage, separation, extraction, and concentration. We highlight the working principle and fabrication of each sample pretreatment device, the existing challenges and the future perspectives for developing paper-based sample pretreatment technique.