Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Liquid Crystals Show Promise In Controlling Embryonic Stem Cells

Date:
March 8, 2006
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
Liquid crystals, the same phase-shifting materials used to display information on cell phones, monitors and other electronic equipment, can also be used to report in real time on the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

A polarized light micrograph (top view) of human embryonic stem cells cultured for three days on a Matrigel-coated film of liquid crystal hosted within a small grid. The bright regions in the image correspond to the regions where the stem cells have grown. Dark regions are void of cells. As the human embryonic stem cells grow on the liquid crystal, they reorganize a thin layer of proteins (called Matrigel) that separates the cells from the liquid crystal, thereby leading to patterned orientations of the liquid crystal. Depending on its local orientation, the liquid crystal can transmit light or block it, giving rise to dark and bright regions in the image.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison

Liquid crystals, the same phase-shifting materials used to display information on cell phones, monitors and other electronic equipment, can also be used to report in real time on the differentiation of embryonic stem cells.

Differentiation is the process by which embryonic stem cells gradually turn into function-specific types of adult cells or so-called "cell lineages," including skin, heart or brain cells.

The main challenge facing stem cell research is that of guiding differentiation along these well-defined, controlled lineages. Stem cells grown in the laboratory tend to differentiate in an uncontrolled manner, resulting in a mixture of cells of little medical use.

Now, University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers at the NSF-funded Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) have shown that by straining mechanically the cells as they grow, it is possible to reduce significantly and almost eliminate the uncontrolled differentiation of stem cells.

In an article in the March issue of Advanced Functional Materials, the team reports on a liquid crystal-based cell culture system that promises new ways of achieving real-time control over interactions between synthetic materials and human embryonic stem cells, including the possibility of straining embryonic stem cells as they grow.

"Stem cells tend to be smaller and have a slightly more compact shape than the differentiated cells," says chemical and biological engineer Sean Palecek. "Differentiated cells appear to be much more spread and they appear to exert different levels of force on the matrix in which they are grown. That force can be read to a liquid crystal. Through simple changes of liquid crystal texture and color, our cell culture system is able to report, in real time, the cell interactions with the underlying support on which they are grown."

Currently, researchers have several methods of monitoring cell differentiation. The easiest, says Palecek, is to just look at the cells and use cell morphology as a cue. A more accurate method uses molecular markers. Antibodies are placed against these markers to determine if they bind to the cell. That system, while more accurate, does not provide real time data and cells often have to be killed in order to analyze the markers.

"This newly devised cell culture system enables a new paradigm in stem cell research," says chemical and biological engineer and MRSEC Director Juan de Pablo. "Ultimately, we hope to use liquid crystalline materials to transmit desired sets of physical and chemical cues to stem cells so as to control their differentiation, as well as report back specific responses of the cells or tissue.

"This research is also significant as an example of our unique effort to integrate advanced materials engineering and embryonic stem cell research, an effort that will help accelerate the rate at which the benefits of stem-cell based therapies are brought to society," de Pablo adds.

In addition to Palecek and de Pablo, authors of the paper include former post-doctoral researcher Nathan Lockwood, graduate student Jeff Mohr, researcher Lin Ji, School of Veterinary Medicine (ophthalmology) and biomedical engineer Christopher Murphy, and chemical and biological engineer Nicholas Abbott.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Liquid Crystals Show Promise In Controlling Embryonic Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 March 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060307220354.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2006, March 8). Liquid Crystals Show Promise In Controlling Embryonic Stem Cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060307220354.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Liquid Crystals Show Promise In Controlling Embryonic Stem Cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060307220354.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins