Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Stem cells’ electric abilities might help their safe clinical use

21.10.2005


Researchers from Johns Hopkins have discovered the presence of functional ion channels in human embryonic stem cells (ESCs). These ion channels act like electrical wires and permit ESCs, versatile cells that possess the unique ability to become all cell types of the body, to conduct and pass along electric currents.



If researchers could selectively block some of these channels in implanted cells, derived from stem cells, they may be able to prevent potential tumor development. The paper appears Aug. 5 online in the journal Stem Cells.

"A major concern for human ESC-based therapies is the potential for engineered grafts to go haywire after transplantation and form tumors, for instance, due to contamination by only a few undifferentiated human ESCs," says Ronald A. Li, Ph.D., an assistant professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the study. "Our discovery of functional ion channels, which are valves in a cell’s outer membrane allowing the passage of charged atoms, the basis of electricity, provides an important link to the differentiation, or maturation, and cell proliferation, or growth of human ESCs."


Because human ESCs can potentially provide an unlimited supply of even highly specialized cells, such as brain and heart cells, for transplantation and cell-based therapies, they may provide an ultimate solution to limited donor availability.

In an earlier study, Li’s lab genetically engineered heart cells derived from human ESCs, suggesting the possibility of transplanting unlimited supplies of healthy, specialized cells into damaged organs.

"We do not want to be taking any chances of tumor formation. Based on our previous research, we therefore decided to explore the existence of ion channels in pluripotent, or versatile, human ESCs because electrical activity is known to regulate cell differentiation and proliferation," says Li. "To my knowledge, the electrical properties of human ESCs were never studied up to this point."

In the current study, the researchers measured the electric currents of single human ESCs, discovered several channels that allow and control passage of potassium, and observed the electric current’s effect on cell differentiation and proliferation.

"In a number of different cell types, from cancer to T-lymphocytes, potassium channels are responsible for altering the membrane voltage of cells," says Li. "This in turn is required for the progression of certain cells into the next phase of a cell cycle."

Li hopes the targeting of specific potassium channels will give scientists more understanding and control in engineering healthy cells for transplantation.

"We found that blocking potassium channels in ESCs also slowed their growth," says Li. "Our findings may lead to genetic strategies that suppress undesirable cell division after transplantation, not only for ESCs and their derivatives, but perhaps for adult stem cells as well." Li adds that much more work is necessary to know for sure.

Joanna Downer | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu
http://stemcells.alphamedpress.org/papbyrecent.dtl

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

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

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>