Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

First System Of Human Nerve-cell Tissue Engineered

Date:
February 27, 2008
Source:
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have demonstrated that living human nerve cells can be engineered into a network that could one day be used for transplants to repair damaged to the nervous system. They obtained human dorsal root ganglia neurons to engineer into transplantable nervous tissue.

Four individual human DRG neurons that survived for months in culture. Differing colors indicate different neuron-specific stains. Bottom: Center region of an engineered human nervous tissue construct showing stretch-grown axon bundles.
Credit: Douglas H. Smith, MD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have demonstrated that living human nerve cells can be engineered into a network that could one day be used for transplants to repair damaged to the nervous system.

"We have created a three-dimensional neural network, a mini nervous system in culture, which can be transplanted en masse," explains senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, Professor, Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at Penn.

Although neuron transplantation to repair the nervous system has shown promise in animal models, there are few sources of viable neurons for use in the clinic and insufficient approaches to bridge extensive nerve damage in patients.

The Stretch Test In previous work, Smith's group showed that they could induce tracts of nerve fibers called axons to grow in response to mechanical tension. They placed neurons from rat dorsal root ganglia (clusters of nerves just outside the spinal cord) on nutrient-filled plastic plates.

Axons sprouted from the neurons on each plate and connected with neurons on the other plate. The plates were then slowly pulled apart over a series of days, aided by a precise computer-controlled motor system, creating long tracts of living axons.

These cultures were then embedded in a collagen matrix, rolled into a form resembling a jelly roll, and then implanted into a rat model of spinal cord injury. After the four-week study period, the researchers found that the geometry of the construct was maintained and that the neurons at both ends and all the axons spanning these neurons survived transplantation. More importantly, the axons at the ends of the construct adjacent to the host tissue extended through the collagen barrier to connect with the host tissue as a sort of nervous tissue bridge.

Next Step

Now, the researchers have taken the next step and are applying this technique to living human nerve cells. Smith and his team obtained human dorsal root ganglia neurons (due to their robustness in culture) to engineer into transplantable nervous tissue.

The root ganglia neurons were harvested from 16 live patients following elective ganglionectomies, and four thoracic neurons were harvested from organ donors. The neurons were purified and placed in a specially designed growth chamber. Using the stretch growth technique, the axons were slowly pulled in opposite directions over a series of days until they reached a desired length.

The neurons survived at least three months in culture while maintaining the ability to generate action potentials, the electrical signals transmitted along nerve fibers. The axons grew at about 1 millimeter per day to a length of 1 centimeter, creating the first engineered living human nervous tissue constructs.

"This study demonstrates the promise of adult neurons as an alternative transplant material due to their availability, viability, and capacity to be engineered," says Smith. "We've also shown the feasibility of obtaining neurons from living patients as a source of neurons for autologous, or self, transplant as well as from organ donors for allografts."

Researchers report their findings in the February issue of the Journal of Neurosurgery. Penn co-authors are Jason H. Huang, Eric L. Zager, Jun Zhang, Robert G. Groff IV, Bryan J. Pfister, M. Sean Grady, and Eileen Maloney-Wilensky. Akiva S. Cohen from The Children's' Hospital of Philadelphia was also a co-author. The authors thank the Gift of Life program and the family members of the organ donors for their support and selfless sacrifice. This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "First System Of Human Nerve-cell Tissue Engineered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226135424.htm>.
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. (2008, February 27). First System Of Human Nerve-cell Tissue Engineered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226135424.htm
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "First System Of Human Nerve-cell Tissue Engineered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080226135424.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
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