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

Researchers See Stem Cells Take Initial Step Toward Development

Published: Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Study represents the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.

The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. 

University of Illinois researchers, in collaboration with scientists at Notre Dame University and the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, published their results in the journal Nature Communications.

“Everybody knows that for an embryo to form, somehow a single cell has a way to self-organize into multiple cells, but the in vivo microenvironment is not well understood,” said study leader Ning Wang, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at the U. of I. “We want to know how they develop into organized structures and organs. It doesn’t happen by random chance. There are biological rules that we don’t yet understand.”

During fetal development, all the specialized tissues and organs of the body form out of a small ball of stem cells. First, the ball of generalized cells separates into three different cell lines, called germ layers, which will become different systems of the body. This crucial first step has eluded researchers in the lab. No one has yet been able to induce the cells to form the three distinct germ layers, in the correct order – endoderm on the inside, mesoderm in the middle and ectoderm on the outside. This represents a major hurdle in the application of stem cells to regenerative medicine, since researchers need to understand how tissues develop before they can reliably recreate the process.

“It’s very hard to generate tissues or organs, and the reason is that we don’t know how they form in vivo,” Wang said. “The problem, fundamentally, is that the biological process is not clear. What is the biological environment that controls this, so they can become more organized and specialized?”

Wang’s team demonstrated that not only is it possible for mouse embryonic stem cells to form three distinct germ layers in the lab, but also that achieving the separation requires a careful combination of correct timing, chemical factors and mechanical environment. The team uses cell lines that fluoresce in different colors when they become part of a germ layer, which allows the researchers to monitor the process dynamically.

The researchers deposited the stem cells in a very soft gel matrix, attempting to recreate the properties of the womb. They found that several mechanical forces played a role in how the cells organized and differentiated – the stiffness of the gel, the forces each cell exerts on its neighbors, and the matrix of proteins that the cells themselves deposit as a scaffolding to give the developing embryo structure.

By adjusting the mechanical environment, the researchers were able to observe how the forces affected the developing cells, and found the particular combination that yielded the three germ layers. They also found that they could direct layer development by changing the mechanics, even creating an environment that caused the layers to form in reverse order.

Now, Wang’s group is working to improve their technique for greater efficiency. He hopes that other researchers will be able to use the technique to bridge the gap between stem cells and tissue engineering.

“It’s the first time we’ve had the correct three-germ-layer organization in mammalian cells,” Wang said. “The potential is huge. Now we can push it even further and generate specific organs and tissues. It opens the door for regenerative medicine.”


Further Information

Join For Free

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 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,500+ 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 TechnologyNetworks.com 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

Shape Of Tumor May Affect Whether Cells Can Metastasize
Illinois researchers found that the shape of a tumor may play a role in how cancer cells become primed to spread.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Epigenetic Switches that turn Stem Cells into Blood Vessel Cells Uncovered
Researchers at the University of Illinois have identified a molecular mechanism that directs embryonic stem cells to mature into endothelial cells.
Monday, June 29, 2015
Microtubes Create Cozy Space For Neurons To Grow
Illinois researchers developed a platform to grow and study neuron cells using tiny rolled microtubes.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Banked Blood Grows Stiffer With Age
It may look like fresh blood and flow like fresh blood, but the longer blood is stored, the less it can carry oxygen into the tiny microcapillaries of the body.
Monday, September 08, 2014
Researchers Study Link Between Exercise and Recovery Time in Stem Cell Transplantation
Researchers at the University of Illinois have received a grant to determine whether exercise can shorten recovery time for patients who undergo high-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation.
Friday, February 01, 2013
Scientists Identify Gene Involved in Stem Cell Self-Renewal in Planaria
The work could lead to a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms by which stem cells are regulated.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Scientific News
Heart Defect Prediction Technology Could Lead to Earlier, More Informed Treatment
Experimental method uses genetics-guided biomechanics, patient-specific stem cells.
Immune Cells Remember Their First Meal
Scientists at the University of Bristol have identified the trigger for immune cells' inflammatory response – a discovery that may pave the way for new treatments for many human diseases.
Cancer Cells Coordinate to Form Roving Clusters
Rice University scientists identify ‘smoking gun’ in metastasis of hybrid cells.
Bio-Mimicry Method For Preparing & Labeling Stem Cells Developed
Method allows researchers to prepare mesenchymal stem cells and monitor them using MRI.
Transcription Factor Isoforms Implicated in Colon Diseases
UC Riverside study explains how distribution of two forms of a transcription factor in the colon influence risk of disease.
New Bio-Glass Could Make it Possible to Re-Grow or Replace Cartilage
Researchers at Imperial College London have developed a material that can mimic cartilage and potentially encourage it to re-grow.
Stem Cell Advance Could Be Key Step Toward Treating Deadly Blood Diseases
UCLA scientists get closer to creating blood stem cells in the lab.
Harnessing Engineered Slippery Surfaces For Tissue Repair
A new method could facilitate the transfer of intact regenerating cell sheets from the culture dish to damaged tissues in patients.
Brazilian Zika Virus Strain Causes Birth Defects in Experimental Models
First direct experimental proof of causal effect, researchers say.
Stem Cell Gene Therapy For Fatal Childhood Disease Ready For Human Trial
A pioneering approach for Sanfilippo disease, a genetic condition for which there is no effective treatment, will now be trialled in humans.
SELECTBIO

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!