University of Toronto researchers have developed a method that can rapidly screen human stem cells and better control what they will turn into. The technology could have potential use in regenerative medicine and drug development. Findings are published in this week's issue of the journal Nature Methods.
"The work allows for a better understanding of how to turn stem cells into clinically useful cell types more efficiently," according to Emanuel Nazareth, a PhD student at the Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME) at the University of Toronto. The research comes out of the lab of Professor Peter Zandstra, Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering at U of T.
The researchers used human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC), cells which have the potential to differentiate and eventually become any type of cell in the body. But the key to getting stem cells to grow into specific types of cells, such as skin cells or heart tissue, is to grow them in the right environment in culture, and there have been challenges in getting those environments (which vary for different types of stem cells) just right, Nazareth said.
The researchers developed a high-throughput platform, which uses robotics and automation to test many compounds or drugs at once, with controllable environments to screen hPSCs in. With it, they can control the size of the stem cell colony, the density of cells, and other parameters in order to better study characteristics of the cells as they differentiate or turn into other cell types. Studies were done using stem cells in micro-environments optimized for screening and observing how they behaved when chemical changes were introduced.
It was found that two specific proteins within stem cells, Oct4 and Sox2, can be used to track the four major early cell fate types that stem cells can turn into, allowing four screens to be performed at once.
"One of the most frustrating challenges is that we have different research protocols for different cell types. But as it turns out, very often those protocols don't work across many different cell lines," Nazareth said.
The work also provides a way to study differences across cell lines that can be used to predict certain genetic information, such as abnormal chromosomes. What's more, these predictions can be done in a fraction of the time compared to other existing techniques, and for a substantially lower cost compared to other testing and screening methods.
"We anticipate this technology will underpin new strategies to identify cell fate control molecules, or even drugs, for a number of different stem cell types," Zandstra said.
As a drug screening technology "it's a dramatic improvement over its predecessors," said Nazareth. He notes that in some cases, the new technology can drop testing time from up to a month to a mere two days.
Professor Peter Zandstra was awarded the 2013 Till & McCulloch Award in recognition of this contribution to global stem cell research.About IBBME:
Erin Vollick | EurekAlert!
Not of Divided Mind
19.01.2017 | Hertie-Institut für klinische Hirnforschung (HIH)
CRISPR meets single-cell sequencing in new screening method
19.01.2017 | CeMM Forschungszentrum für Molekulare Medizin der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften
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...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
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...
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...
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...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences
19.01.2017 | Life Sciences
19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy