These findings add to the growing body of knowledge that researchers all over the world are using to direct embryonic stem cells to become specific specialised cells – a fundamental requirement for using lab-grown cells to model disease, test the effects of new drugs and, potentially, treat disease and injury.
Embryonic stem cells have the unique ability to divide to produce both copies of themselves and other, more specialised, cell types. The process whereby embryonic stem cells commit to become specialised cells is still obscure. In particular, the precise role of the protein Fibroblast Growth Factor 4 (FGF4) in this key decision point has been uncertain, until now.
Dr Tilo Kunath and Prof Austin Smith, together with collaborators in Montreal, Canada, show that FGF4 is not involved in the maintenance of cells in the naïve, self-renewing state but is essential to prime cells into a transitional stage, wherein they can go down any one of several paths.
Says Tilo, ‘Depending on the signal presented to the mouse embryonic stem cells, they can go back to the naïve state, and divide without limit, or down one of several specialisation pathways, including routes towards nerve cells or muscle cells. We have coined a name for the cells in this stage – we call them ‘commitment-competent’ cells, in contrast to the embryonic stem cells who do not receive a signal from FGF4, which we call ‘commitment-phobic’.
Human embryonic stem cells need FGF protein to grow in a dish. Whether this is required for maintenance of the human stem cells, or for priming the cells for specialisation, similarly to FGF4, is not yet known. If confirmed in human embryonic stem cells, these latest findings provide a further handle on how to manipulate these cells so as to direct them down specific pathways and obtain specialised cells.
This work was funded by a Parkinson’s Disease Society fellowship held by Tilo Kunath, with support from Stem Cell Sciences PLC, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC), the European Commission Integrated Project ‘EuroStemCell’, and the National Cancer Institute of Canada.
Ana Godinho | alfa
Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed
18.01.2017 | American Chemical Society
127 at one blow...
18.01.2017 | Stiftung Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Leibniz-Institut für Biodiversität der Tiere
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...
At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
05.01.2017 | Event News
18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2017 | Life Sciences