Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bioengineers provide adult stem cells with simultaneous chemical, electrical and mechanical cues

17.11.2010
Bioengineers from the University of California, San Diego have achieved the “Triple Crown” of stem cell culture – they created an artificial environment for stem cells that simultaneously provides the chemical, mechanical and electrical cues necessary for stem cell growth and differentiation.

Building better microenvironments for nurturing stem cells is critical for realizing the promises of stem-cell-based regenerative medicine, including cartilage for joint repair, cardiac cells for damaged hearts, and healthy skeletal myoblasts for muscular dystrophy patients. The advance could also lead to better model systems for fundamental stem cell research.

This work appears in a paper published online in Advanced Functional Materials on November 13.

While researchers have already created artificial environments for stem cells that provide chemical cues combined with either mechanical or electrical cues, the UC San Diego bioengineers say this is the first material reported in the scientific literature, to the best of their knowledge, that simultaneously provides all three cues to stem cells in a three dimensional supportive environment. Remarkably, the development of the new material was led entirely by bioengineering undergraduate students at UC San Diego.

Bioengineering professor Shyni Varghese and UC San Diego medical student and bioengineering alumna Jessica Chuang look at an experimental electrochemical cell.

In nature, stem cells communicate with other cells and with the extracellular matrix through chemical, electrical, and mechanical cues. “We mimicked all these cues that the native environment provides to the cells. This work is therefore fundamental to creating more life-like environments for stem cells in order to steer stem cells toward specific cell types such as chondrocytes, osteoblasts, myoblasts or cardiomyocytes,” said Shyni Varghese, the bioengineering professor who advised the student researchers working in her Biomimetic Polymers and Stem Cell Engineering laboratory at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Realistic in vitro microenvironments for stem cells would also serve as excellent model systems for systematically studying cell function, signaling pathways, disease progression, and tissue growth and development.

Multifunctional Gel Matrix

The stem cells are embedded in a gelatin-like hydrogel bathed in an electrolyte solution compatible for cell growth. When an electric potential passes through the hydrogel, the gel bends and exerts mechanical strain on the cells that is designed to mimic the mechanical cues stem cells experience in natural microenvironments.

“Our hydrogel provides the chemical cues, and when you expose them to an electric field, the hydrogel surrounding the stem cells bends, which provides mechanical strain to the cells,” said Varghese.

In the new paper, the bioengineers report results of human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells growing in the new microenvironment. The chemical, electrical, and mechanical cues steered the embedded cells to differentiate into cartilage cells.

The researchers continue to improve their system, with the goal of coaxing healthy tissue from stem cells. “The ultimate goal of regenerative medicine is to make healthy tissues and differentiated cells with regenerating ability that can save lives. We are not there yet, but this work takes us one step closer,” said Varghese, who is a faculty member of the UC San Diego Institute of Engineering in Medicine.

In addition, the work will be useful to researchers involved in basic stem cell research as well as stem-cell-based clinical trials. For example, in current clinical trials involving human stem cells, the cells are often conditioned in an artificial environment so that when they are implanted into humans, they are more apt to differentiate into the right kinds of cells. Additional control over the cues the cells receive during this conditioning phase could be critical to future regenerative therapy successes.

Crucial Undergraduate Input

“A significant portion of the credit goes to Han Lim, who did this work as an undergraduate bioengineering student. A lot of ideas bounced back and forth between he and I,” said Varghese. “Han also sought out collaboration with NanoEngineering professor Gaurav Arya in order to incorporate mathematical modeling into the project. Han and the other undergraduates on this project were very active. They were coming to me and saying, ‘Why don’t we do this, why don’t we do that? Let us do this, let us do that!’,” said Varghese.

“I feel really excited and privileged to be given this opportunity to work independently with my colleagues, all of them being undergraduates except Professors Arya and Varghese. I must say initially it was very daunting, but I received a lot of help along the way,” said Han Lim, the first author on the paper who performed this work as a bioengineering undergraduate, including a 2008 stint at a Calit2 Summer Undergraduate Research Scholar. (Video: watch Han Lim’s poster presentation on SciVEE.)

“I’d like to thank all my collaborators for their contributions, and especially Dr. Varghese for believing in our potential. With this research, I hope that somewhere in the future we will be able to manipulate chemical, mechanical, and electrical cues such that one can create better biomimicking materials for applications in tissue engineering. As for myself, it would be great if I can further my studies in this field by looking at other ways of studying and manipulating cell behavior. After my studies, I aim to pursue a career in academia and continue to work for the advancement of the field as well as improve the quality of medicine and life,” said Lim.

Varghese’s bioengineering research projects span the continuum from basic research to translational work aimed at bridging the bench-to-bed divide. The lab, however, is united by one overarching goal: to treat dysfunctional tissues or organs using stem cells and healthy tissues derived from stem cells.

“I strongly believe that if we don’t fundamentally understand the science, then the translational work cannot happen. We need to know what is happening in nature before we can successfully mimic it,” said Varghese.

“Dynamic Electromechanical Hydrogel Matrices for Stem Cell Culture,” by UC San Diego bioengineering undergraduate students Han L. Lim, Jessica C. Chuang, Tuan Tran, Aereas Aung; UC San Diego NanoEngineering professor Gaurav Arya, and UC San Diego bioengineering professor Shyni Varghese. This paper is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials

Daniel Kane | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucsd.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)

nachricht CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>