Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Stem Cells: How to Predict Their Fate

Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Technique has potential for regenerative medicine and drug development.

University of Toronto researchers have developed a method that can rapidly screen human stem cells and better control what they will become - a technology that could be used for regenerative medicine and drug development.

The findings are published in this week's issue of the journal Nature Methods.

“The work allows for a better understanding of how to turn stem cells into clinically useful cell types more efficiently,” said Emanuel Nazareth, a PhD student at U of T's Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering (IBBME). The research comes out of the lab of Professor Peter Zandstra, Canada Research Chair in Bioengineering at U of T.

The researchers used human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC), cells which have the potential to differentiate and eventually become any type of cell in the body. But the key to getting stem cells to grow into specific types of cells, such as skin cells or heart tissue, is to grow them in the right environment in culture, and there have been challenges in getting those environments (which vary for different types of stem cells) just right, Nazareth said.

The researchers developed a high-throughput platform, which uses robotics and automation to test many compounds or drugs at once, with controllable environments to screen hPSCs in. With it, they can control the size of the stem cell colony, the density of cells, and other parameters in order to better study characteristics of the cells as they differentiate or turn into other cell types. Studies were done using stem cells in micro-environments optimized for screening and observing how they behaved when chemical changes were introduced .

Researchers found that two specific proteins within stem cells, Oct4 and Sox2, can be used to track the four major early cell fate types that stem cells can turn into, allowing four screens to be performed at once.

“One of the most frustrating challenges is that we have different research protocols for different cell types. But as it turns out, very often those protocols don’t work across many different cell lines,” Nazareth said.

The work also provides a way to study differences across cell lines that can be used to predict certain genetic information, such as abnormal chromosomes. What’s more, these predictions can be done in a fraction of the time compared to other existing techniques, and for a substantially lower cost compared to other testing and screening methods.

“We anticipate this technology will underpin new strategies to identify cell fate control molecules, or even drugs, for a number of different stem cell types,” Zandstra said.

As a drug screening technology "it’s a dramatic improvement over its predecessors,” said Nazareth. He notes that in some cases, the new technology can drop testing time from up to a month to a mere two days.

Professor Zandstra was awarded the 2013 Till & McCulloch Award in recognition of this contribution to global stem cell research.

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,600+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,800+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Hydrogels Help Stem Cells Accelerate Healing
Scientists say they have made a breakthrough in cell transplantation using a gel-like biomaterial that keeps stem cells alive and helps them integrate better into tissue.
Monday, May 18, 2015
A Recipe for Stem Cell Production
Researchers may be one step closer to a ‘recipe’ for large-scale production of stem cells for use in research and therapy.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
A Recipe for Stem Cell Production
Researchers may be one step closer to a ‘recipe’ for large-scale production of stem cells for use in research and therapy.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Liver and Pancreas Precursor Cells Created using New Stem Cell Production Method
Scientists in Canada have overcome a key research hurdle to developing regenerative treatments for diabetes and liver disease.
Friday, December 02, 2011
Scientific News
Snapshot Turns T Cell Immunology on its Head
New research may have implications for 1 diabetes sufferers.
Developing a Gel that Mimics Human Breast for Cancer Research
Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Nottingham have been funded to develop a gel that will match many of the biological structures of human breast tissue, to advance cancer research and reduce animal testing.
Lung Repair and Regeneration Gene Discovered
New role for hedgehog gene offers better understanding of lung disease.
Restoring Vision with Stem Cells
Age-related macular degeneration (AMRD) could be treated by transplanting photoreceptors produced by the directed differentiation of stem cells, thanks to findings published today by Professor Gilbert Bernier of the University of Montreal and its affiliated Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital.
The Age of Humans Controlling Microbes
Engineered bacteria could soon be used to detect environmental toxins, treat diseases, and sustainably produce chemicals and fuels.
Gene Expression: A Snapshot of Stem Cell Development
New genes found that regulate development of stem cells.
Tissue-Engineered Colon from Human Cells
A study by scientists at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has shown that tissue-engineered colon derived from human cells is able to develop the many specialized nerves required for function, mimicking the neuronal population found in native colon.
Tension Helps Heart Cells Develop Normally in the Lab
Stanford engineers have uncovered the important role tension plays in growing heart cells out of the body.
Urine Excretion From Stem Cell-Derived Kidneys
Researchers report a strategy for enabling urine excretion from kidneys grown from stem cells.
Stem Cell Research Hints at Evolution of Human Brain
Researchers at UC San Francisco have succeeded in mapping the genetic signature of a unique group of stem cells in the human brain that seem to generate most of the neurons in our massive cerebral cortex.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,600+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,800+ scientific videos