Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drug discovery for Parkinson's disease: LCSB researchers grow neurons in 3-D

25.06.2015

The progressive loss of neurons in the brain of Parkinson's patients is slow yet inexorable. So far, there are no drugs that can halt this insidious process. Researchers at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have now managed to grow the types of neurons affected starting from neuronal stem cells in a three-dimensional cell culture system.

The scientists working with Dr. Ronan Fleming of the LCSB research group Systems Biochemistry are confident this system could greatly facilitate the continuing search for therapeutic agents in future as it models the natural conditions in the brain more realistically than other systems available so far. It is also significantly cheaper to employ in the laboratory. The results were recently published in the journal "Lab on a Chip" (doi: 10.1039/C5LC00180C).


Neurons cultivated with the help of ordinary skin cells create a 3-D network on a chip.

Credit: (c) Edinson Lucumi Moreno, LCSB

Parkinson's disease is characterised in particular by the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the Substantia nigra of the midbrain. It is already possible to grow these dopaminergic neurons in cell cultures. "But most such cell cultures are two-dimensional, with the cells growing along the base of a petri dish, for example," group leader Fleming explains. "Instead, we have the neurons grow in a gel that yields a far better model of their natural, three-dimensional environment."

As the starting point for cultivating the target neurons, the scientists use ordinary skin cells. They convert these through conventional methods into induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs for short. For the development of this technology Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2012 together with John Gurdon.

"By adding suitable growth factors, the iPSCs can then be converted in a second step into neural stem cells," says Prof. Jens Schwamborn, head of the LCSB research group Developmental & Cellular Biology, which is responsible for the differentiation of the cells. "These are the starting cells we use in the microfluidic culture."

The researchers first mix the cells with a liquid, which they then fill into little test vessels called bioreactors. "You can imagine such a bioreactor as a tunnel separated down the middle by a flat barrier," LCSB researcher Edinson Lucumi Moreno, first author of the study, explains. "One side of the tunnel we load the liquid with the cells, where it hardens into a gel under controlled temperatures. The other side we load with a medium to which we can add nutrients and substances for further differentiation of the neuronal stem cells as required."

After only a few hours, the researchers already observe changes in the neuronal stem cells: The cells begin to form little protrusions, which develop over the following days into axons and dendrites - the long extensions typical of neurons. After 30 days, 91 percent of the cells are neurons, about 20 percent of which are the desired dopaminergic neurons. This has been confirmed in morphological and immunological tests.

One of the major advantages of this 3D cell culture system is that it can already be automated in its present form: The bioreactors are placed on commercially available plates that can be processed and read out by laboratory robots. "In drug development, dozens of chemical substances can therefore be tested for possible therapeutic effects in a single step," says Ronan Fleming. "Because we use far smaller amounts of substances than in conventional cell culture systems, the costs drop to about one tenth the usual."

A further advantage is that the bioreactors can be loaded with cells originating from the skin cells of individual Parkinson's patients. "This is an important step towards personalised drug development," Fleming asserts. As a next step, Fleming's team and their international collaborators want to study cells from patients and to test potential active pharmaceutical ingredients. Promising substances will then be tested in mice.

Media Contact

Sabine Mosch
sabine.mosch@uni.lu
352-466-644-6423

 @uni_lu

http://www.uni.lu 

Sabine Mosch | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht World’s Largest Study on Allergic Rhinitis Reveals new Risk Genes
17.07.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Plant mothers talk to their embryos via the hormone auxin
17.07.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>