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Posts Tagged ‘Harvard Medical School’

EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS CREATED BY 3D PRINTER

In ALL ARTICLES, SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, STEM CELLS IN THE NEWS on February 8, 2013 at 9:00 am

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3D-Printed Human Embryonic Stem Cells Created for First Time

Imagine if you could take living cells, load them into a printer, and squirt out a 3D tissue that could develop into a kidney or a heart. Scientists are one step closer to that reality, now that they have developed the first printer for embryonic human stem cells.

In a new study, researchers from the University of Edinburgh have created a cell printer that spits out living embryonic stem cells. The printer was capable of printing uniform-size droplets of cells gently enough to keep the cells alive and maintain their ability to develop into different cell types. The new printing method could be used to make 3D human tissues for testing new drugs, grow organs, or ultimately print cells directly inside the body.  Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are obtained from human embryos and can develop into any cell type in an adult person, from brain tissue to muscle to bone. This attribute makes them ideal for use in regenerative medicine — repairing, replacing and regenerating damaged cells, tissues or organs. [Stem Cells: 5 Fascinating Findings]

In a lab dish, hESCs can be placed in a solution that contains the biological cues that tell the cells to develop into specific tissue types, a process called differentiation. The process starts with the cells forming what are called “embryoid bodies.” Cell printers offer a means of producing embryoid bodies of a defined size and shape.

In the new study, the cell printer was made from a modified CNC machine (a computer-controlled machining tool) outfitted with two “bio-ink” dispensers: one containing stem cells in a nutrient-rich soup called cell medium and another containing just the medium. These embryonic stem cells were dispensed through computer-operated valves, while a microscope mounted to the printer provided a close-up view of what was being printed.  The two inks were dispensed in layers, one on top of the other to create cell droplets of varying concentration. The smallest droplets were only two nanoliters, containing roughly five cells.

The cells were printed onto a dish containing many small wells. The dish was then flipped over so the droplets now hung from them, allowing the stem cells to form clumps inside each well. (The printer lays down the cells in precisely sized droplets and in a certain pattern that is optimal for differentiation.)  Tests revealed that more than 95 percent of the cells were still alive 24 hours after being printed, suggesting they had not been killed by the printing process. More than 89 percent of the cells were still alive three days later, and also tested positive for a marker of their pluripotency — their potential to develop into different cell types.

Biomedical engineer Utkan Demirci, of Harvard University Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has done pioneering work in printing cells, and thinks the new study is taking it in an exciting direction. “This technology could be really good for high-throughput drug testing,” Demirci told LiveScience. One can build mini-tissues from the bottom up, using a repeatable, reliable method, he said. Building whole organs is the long-term goal, Demirci said, though he cautioned that it “may be quite far from where we are today.”

Others have created printers for other types of cells. Demirci and colleagues made one that printed embryonic stem cells from mice. Others have printed a kind of human stem cells from connective tissues, which aren’t able to develop into as many cell types as embryonic stem cells. The current study is the first to print embryonic stem cells from humans, researchers report in the Feb. 5 issue of the journal Biofabrication.

http://news.yahoo.com

A TREATMENT FOR ALS? Neural stem cell transplants slow progression of disease

In SCIENCE & STEM CELLS, VICTORIES & SUCCESS STORIES on January 3, 2013 at 2:33 pm
A treatment for ALS?
Neural stem cell transplants slow progression of disease

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“The transplanted neural stem cells help by producing factors that preserve the health and function of the host’s remaining nerve cells. They also reduce inflammation and suppress the number of disease-causing cells in the host’s spinal cord. The neural stem cells did not replace deteriorating nerve cells in the mice with ALS.  Researchers observed improved motor performance and respiratory function in the treated mice. The neural stem cell transplant also slowed the disease’s progression.

Twenty-five percent of the treated ALS mice in the study survived for one year or more — roughly three to four times longer than the untreated mice.”

Results from a meta-analysis of 11 independent amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research studies are giving hope to the ALS community by showing, for the first time, that the fatal disease may be treatable.

Researchers say progress in treating ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, may be made by targeting new mechanisms revealed by neural stem cell-based studies.

“This significant research will help us better understand the mechanisms underlying motor neuron diseases,” said Yang (Ted) Teng, Harvard Medical School associate professor of surgery at the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the study’s co-lead authors. Teng is also director of the Spinal Cord Injury and Stem Cell Biology Research Laboratory in the Department of Neurosurgery at Brigham and Women’s.

The research studies were conducted at Brigham and Women’s; the Harvard affiliates Children’s Hospital Boston and Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System; Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute; University of Massachusetts Medical School; Johns Hopkins University; State University of New York Upstate Medical University; and Columbia University.

“This is not a cure for ALS. But it shows the potential that mechanisms used by neural stem cells in our study have for improving an ALS patient’s quality of life and length of life,” said Yang (Ted) Teng, one of the principal investigators of Project ALS’ consortium project. File photo by Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

ALS causes nerve cells in the spinal cord to die, eventually taking away a person’s ability to move or even breathe. A decade of research conducted at multiple institutions showed, however, that when neural stem cells were transplanted into multilevels of the spinal cord of a mouse model with familial ALS, disease onset and progression slowed, motor and breathing function improved, and treated mice survived three to four times longer than untreated mice.

A summary of the findings from all 11 studies was published online in December in Science Translational Medicine.

“This work sheds new light on detrimental roles played by non-neuronal cells in triggering motor neuron death, and these events should be targeted for developing more effective therapeutics to treat ALS,” Teng said.

The transplanted neural stem cells help by producing factors that preserve the health and function of the host’s remaining nerve cells. They also reduce inflammation and suppress the number of disease-causing cells in the host’s spinal cord. The neural stem cells did not replace deteriorating nerve cells in the mice with ALS.

Researchers observed improved motor performance and respiratory function in the treated mice. The neural stem cell transplant also slowed the disease’s progression. Twenty-five percent of the treated ALS mice in the study survived for one year or more — roughly three to four times longer than the untreated mice.

“This is not a cure for ALS,” said Teng, who is one of the principal investigators of Project ALS’ consortium project. “But it shows the potential that mechanisms used by neural stem cells in our study have for improving an ALS patient’s quality of life and length of life.”

To read the full story, visit the Harvard Medical School website.

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