Stem cell differentiation and nanotubes

I have been quite skeptical of futuristic claims about how nanotechnology will enable immortality.  Specifically, the idea of intelligent nanorobots swimming around freely in my bloodstream diagnosing diseases and repairing cells seems too far off in the future for me to be concerned about it. I have focused more on the growing stream of here-and-now longevity-related discoveries based on genetics and molecular biology. 

Nontheless, an item came to my attention today that leads me to question the severity of my skepticism about the potential contribution of nanotechnology to life extension.  A research study reported in December 2008 indicates that nano-scale substrate surface topography (micro characteristics of the surface on which a cell culture is grown) can significantly affect stem cell differentiation.  The study looked at human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) that can differentiate into a variety of cell types including chondrocytes, osteoblasts,  myocytes, and adipocytes.  It was discovered that when the surface consisted of relatively small nanotubes, hMSC adhered to the tubes without noticeable differentiation.  Somewhat larger diameter nanotubes (≈70- to 100-nm diameter)  “elicited a dramatic stem cell elongation (≈10-fold increased), which induced cytoskeletal stress and selective differentiation into osteoblast-like cells.”  The result is relevant to the 14th theory of aging treated in my Anti-Aging Firewalls treatise which is Decline in adult stem cell differentiation.  The challenge with age is how to assure a continuing high rate of differentiation of adult stem cells to replace depleted body cells without incurring risk of cancer.   The new research result suggests that surface geometry can be an important consideration related to stem cell differentiation, and that control of nanosurface characteristics may prove to be helpful to elicit differentiation.  Another small piece of research in the 2,500,000 piece puzzle that will define aging.

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at and an extensive site of my art at Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to
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