A team of researchers at Columbia Engineering School has developed a new technique to evaluate human stem cells using cell micropatterning — a simple but powerful in vitro tool that will enable scientists to study the initiation of left-right asymmetry during tissue formation, to diagnose disease, and to study factors that could lead to certain birth defects.
The study, led by Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, will be published in the online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of June 27, 2011.
Vunjak-Novakovic and her team have long been interested in developing technologies to investigate developmental processes of cells. In 2008 Leo Wan, a postdoctoral scientist from her lab, printed human cells onto microscopically small patterns to investigate the shape-force control of cell function; this study helped them learn more about the connections between mechanical tension generated inside the cell and the decisions that cells make.
As they looked into the numerous videos they made to document and analyze the shapes of cells on micropatterns over time in culture, they noticed that the cell populations on micropatterns had a life of their own. These small communities of cells would undergo directional motion and form chiral alignment after a day or two of culture, with all cells moving in the same direction within the boundaries. Vunjak-Novakovic said “It was really the consistency of this motion pattern – the same cell type would always take the same direction with extremely high statistical power – that was intriguing and made us do hundreds of experiments.”
They found that the direction of motion depended on cell type — that normal cells and cancer cells of the same type show opposite direction of motion, and that the mechanism by which the directional motion is established involves the actin stress fibers inside the cell. “What’s really interesting about this work is that it shows that cells can establish a consistently biased asymmetry without the help of large-scale embryonic structures,” said Vunjak-Novakovic. “Our study clearly demonstrated that mammalian cells could establish and organize consistent asymmetry without cilia or node, a finding of great interest to those of us in cell and both developmental biology and stem cell bioengineering. The use of cell patterning techniques for studying cell asymmetry, or chirality, is entirely novel, and it enables obtaining a lot of biological and medical information by analyzing cell motion on tiny patterns.”
Vunjak-Novakovic and her team plan to extend their research in several directions, by working:
• with developmental biologists to get deeper insights into the establishment of left-right asymmetry
• with cancer biologists to evaluate the capacity of this technology to diagnose disease
• in cardiac tissue engineering to pattern signal propagation in cell populations.
“We are very excited about developing this technology that gives us insights into the small world of the cells, in a way that is predictive of their behavior in the whole organism,” added Vunjak-Novakovic. “But what’s also really striking are the images of cells on micropatterns — these are the most beautiful hybrids of art and science I have ever seen!’
Columbia has filed a patent application covering potential commercial applications of the discovery and, through its technology transfer office, Columbia Technology Ventures, is seeking partners to develop these applications.
Vunjak-Novakovic’s study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), through a Tissue Engineering Resource Center grant.Columbia Engineering
Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
23.02.2017 | American Chemical Society
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
24.02.2017 | Earth Sciences
24.02.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
24.02.2017 | Life Sciences