Treena Livingston Arinzeh, PhD, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) whose research has proven the potential of adult stem cell research to help patients suffering from spinal cord injuries and related diseases, will receive an Outstanding Women in Research Award from The New Jersey Association for Biomedical Research (NJABR), Union.
Arinzeh, of Jersey City, is one of 12 women scientists who will receive research awards during the association’s awards gala dinner held Nov. 18 at the Woodbridge Hilton. The dinner is the signature event of Thank You Research month, celebrated in November. NJABR is dedicated to improving human health through biomedical research.
“Collectively and individually, these scientists epitomize the caring leadership that characterizes our state's biomedical research initiatives,” said Michael D. Kastello, chairman of the NJABR Board of Directors.
Arinzeh, 34, is one of the leading stem cell researchers in the nation. In October, she was awarded the nation’s highest honor given to young scientists and engineers by President Bush. Adult stem cells have miraculous potential, and three years ago, Arinzeh published a paper in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research that documented a breakthrough in stem cell research. The paper focused on developing scaffolds that aid stem cells. Scaffolds are biomaterials, such as calcium phosphates, that act as frameworks for stem cells, allowing the cells to repair bone.
Arinzeh performed animal studies on rats with bone defects; she also performed cell-culture studies. After 12 weeks, their bones were regenerated, with full restoration of the mechanical properties of their long bones. Her studies could lead to medical breakthroughs that would help a host of patients. Stem cell implantation, for instance, could help cancer patients who've had large tumors removed from bone, Arinzeh says. Stem cells could also help patients suffering from osteoporosis.
Perhaps most importantly, Arinzeh published another paper in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery proving that adult stem cells taken from one patient can be successfully implanted in another. Researchers originally thought such a transfer might be rejected. And it's not just defective bones that may be regenerated by stem cells and biomaterials. Arinzeh is now testing biomaterials that, in combination with adult stem cells, might also repair cartilage, tendon and neuronal tissues.
“This is a very exciting time to be doing stem cell research,” Arinzeh said. “The field is wide open and has the potential to influence how physicians treat patients with severely damaged or diseased tissues.”