Image of three human mesenchymal stem cells. The ATP in the cells is glowing green. The phosphate from the biomaterial (calcium phosphate) that is taken up by the cells is used to make more ATP, which is traditionally the source of energy for the cells. In this case, however, ATP can be converted to adenosine which promotes the human mesenchymal stem cells to be turned into bone cells.
This image illustrates some of the work pursued by an international team of researchers led by bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego. The researchers discovered exactly how calcium phosphate can coax stem cells to become bone-building cells. This work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Jan. 6, 2014.