Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Putting Stem Cell Research On The Fast Track

Date:
September 21, 2007
Source:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Summary:
Engineers have developed tools to help solve two of the main problems slowing the progress of stem cell research -- how to quickly test stem cell response to different drugs or genes, and how to create a large supply of healthy, viable stem cells to study from only a few available cells.

A machine creates a 3-D microarray slide. Later, Dordick and his team will add live stem cells to each drop of specialized fluid.
Credit: Rensselaer/Tiago Fernandez

Engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed tools to help solve two of the main problems slowing the progress of stem cell research -- how to quickly test stem cell response to different drugs or genes, and how to create a large supply of healthy, viable stem cells to study from only a few available cells.

The researchers have created methods to study millions of stems cells on devices the size of a standard microscope slide. The techniques enable thousands of individual stem cell experiments to be carried out quickly and in parallel on one small device.

"Rensselaer is quickly establishing itself as leader in the development of stem cell technology that hastens the speed and accuracy of stem cell research," Provost Robert Palazzo said. "Our scientists and engineers are filling a vital niche in the global scientific effort to develop medical therapies using stem cells. Tools like these, which enable high-throughput study of stem cells, will quickly advance stem cell research in medical labs around the world."

The two groups of researchers used microarrays to develop miniaturized stem cell laboratories. With this technique researchers can perform high-throughput analysis of the material or cells on a single slide, analyzing tens of thousands of samples in one experiment. Each of the teams developed separate specialized microarray platforms.

Helping develop stem cell drugs

A team led by Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and visiting doctoral student Tiago Fernandez and Professor Joaquim M.S. Cabral from the Instituto Superior T้chinco-Lisbon in Portugal developed a platform that will enhance the speed of drug discovery by revealing how different molecules help or hinder stem cell function.

The platform will serve as a tool in the discovery of new drugs that target stem cells, Dordick said. He explained that although this three-dimensional system can be used to discover materials that support stem cell development and growth, not all stem cells are worth saving. "New research is showing that some stem cells could be the precursor for cancer and the reason that cancer reappears after having been totally eradicated by chemotherapy," he said. "With this platform we may be able to rapidly screen new drug candidates that target and kill these stem cells. Instead of going for the mature liver cell that spreads cancer, we can catch a liver stem cell before it can kick off cancer development."

The device will enable drug researchers to quickly screen thousands of small molecules (the basic element of many modern drugs) for their impacts on the fate of stem cells.

Dordick's group was able to prepare up to 1,000 drops as small as 20 nanoliters on a chemically modified slide. The drops contained a mixture of mouse embryonic stem cells encased in a specialized gel. The researchers discovered that in this mixture, the cells remained viable and could be used in various forms of cell-based screening.

Their research was presented at the 234th American Chemical Society National Meeting in Boston on Aug. 19.

Helping understand gene function in stem cells

A separate team led by Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Ravi Kane and Rensselaer doctoral student Randolph Ashton created a platform that will allow researchers to quickly understand how different genes impact stem cell function or development.

"There are millions of DNA bases and tens of thousands of genes within the human genome," Kane said. "In order to screen how all these different DNA sequences affect stem cell function you need an extremely high throughput method."

In order to become a specialized organ, tissue, or neural cell, a stem cell needs to be pointed in the right direction, and that guidance is believed to be provided by a highly complex arrangement of genes. If researchers can isolate the specific genetic sequences that cause a stem cell to transform into a neural cell, the example that Kane used in his research, they can begin to develop medical treatments for common diseases like Parkinson's disease using specially programmed stem cells infected with the correct arrangement of genes to produce healthy neural cells.

Kane and his team developed a specialized stamping technique that can be used to quickly understand how different genetic sequences affect stem cell development. The stamp is covered with thousands of mircoscale prongs, similar to the surface of a LEGOฎ. Those prongs imprint the surface of the corresponding slide, creating a microarray platform with thousands of individual cell-adhesive divots -- the perfect mircoscale Petri dishes. The master stamp can create thousands of stamped surfaces without the needs for a clean room or sophisticated machinery.

To develop the stem cell mixture added to the stamped surface, the researchers first created a stem cell library. Each stem cell within this library would overexpress a different genetic sequence. Cells from the library are then dropped onto the micropatterned surface, such that each divot contains only one type of cell. Those seeded populations then divide to form individual clonal populations of cells. A stamped surface the size of a microscope slide can contain 3,500 clonal cell populations.

These populations can then be screened at the same time for researchers to determine which cells exhibit a desired behavior (i.e. the development of healthy neural cells). The researcher then immediately knows what DNA sequence is responsible for the observed behavior.

To exhibit the effectiveness of their technology, Kane and his group screened clonal populations of rat neural stem cells to identify a sequence that promoted neural stem cell proliferation.

Their research will be published in upcoming edition of the journal Stem Cells.

Dordick and Fernandez were assisted in their research by Seok Joon Kwon, Moo-Yeal Lee, Maria M. Diogo, and Claudia Lobata de Silva. Kane and Ashton were assisted by Joseph Peltier, Analeah O'Neill, Joshua Leonard, and David Schaffer of the University of California at Berkley and Christopher Fasano and Sally Temple of Albany Medical College.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Putting Stem Cell Research On The Fast Track." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070912102212.htm>.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. (2007, September 21). Putting Stem Cell Research On The Fast Track. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070912102212.htm
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Putting Stem Cell Research On The Fast Track." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070912102212.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

Liberia Pleads for Help to Fight Ebola

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Liberia's finance minister is urging the international community to quickly follow through on pledges of cash to battle Ebola. Bodies are piling up in the capital Monrovia as the nation awaits more help. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

Ebola Doctor Says Border Controls Critical

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A Florida doctor who helped fight the expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa says the disease can be stopped, but only if nations quickly step up their response and make border control a priority. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Global Ebola Aid Increasing But Critics Say It's Late

Newsy (Sep. 21, 2014) — More than 100 tons of medical supplies were sent to West Africa on Saturday, but aid workers say the global response is still sluggish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

Sierra Leone in Lockdown to Control Ebola

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Sierra Leone residents remained in lockdown on Saturday as part of a massive effort to confine millions of people to their homes in a bid to stem the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. (Sept. 20) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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