Stem cells are extremely versatile: They can develop in 220 different ways, transforming themselves into a correspondingly diverse range of specialized body cells. Biologists and medical scientists plan to make use of this differentiation ability to selectively harvest cardiac, skin or nerve cells for the treatment of different diseases.
However, the stem cell culture techniques practiced today are not very efficient. What proportion of a mass of stem cells is transformed into which body cells? And in what conditions? “We need devices that keep doing the same thing and thus deliver statistically reliable data,” says Professor Günter Fuhr, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT in St. Ingbert.
Two prototypes of laboratory devices for stem cell differentiation enable the complex careers of stem cells to be systematically examined for the first time ever. These devices are the result of the international project ‘CellPROM’ – ‘Cell Programming by Nanoscaled Devices’ – which was funded by the European Union to the tune of 16.7 million euros and coordinated by the IBMT. “The type of cell culture used until now is too far removed from the natural situation,” says CellPROM project coordinator Daniel Schmitt – for in the body, the stem cells come into contact with solute nutrients, messenger RNAs and a large number of different cells. Millions of proteins rest in or on the cell membranes and excite the stem cells to transform themselves into specialized cells. “We want to provide the stem cells in the laboratory with a surface that is as similar as possible to the cell membranes,” explains Daniel Schmitt. “To this end, the consortium developed a variety of methods by which different biomolecules can be efficiently applied to cell-compatible surfaces.”
In the two machines – MagnaLab and NazcaLab – the stem cells are brought into contact with the signal factors in a pre-defined manner. In MagnaLab, several hundred cells grow on culture substrates that are coated with biomolecules. In NazcaLab, large numbers of individual cells, washed around by a nutrient solution, float along parallel channels where they encounter micro-particles that are charged with signal factors. “We use a microscope and a camera to document in fast motion how individual cells divide and differentiate,” says Schmitt. The researchers demonstrated on about 20 different cell models that the multi-talents can be stimulated by surface signals to transform themselves into specialized cells.
Daniel Schmitt | alfa
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy