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

Stem Cells Show Power to Predict Disease, Drug Toxicity

Published: Monday, December 10, 2007
Last Updated: Monday, December 10, 2007
Bookmark and Share
Scientists have used human embryonic stem cells to predict the toxic effects of drugs and provide chemical clues to diagnosing disease.

For the first time, scientists have used human embryonic stem cells to predict the toxic effects of drugs and provide chemical clues to diagnosing disease.

Microscopic view of neural precursor cells from the research lab of Gabriela Cezar,UW-Madison professor of animal science. The cells were derived from human embryonic stem cells and were exposed to a drug known to cause autism in a small percentage of cases. By assessing the small-molecule chemicals expressed by the cells when they are exposed to the drug, scientists can gain fundamental insight into the toxic effects of drugs on cells in development.

Writing this week in the journal Stem Cells and Development, a team led by UW-Madison biologist Gabriela Cezar reports the use of all-purpose stem cells to elicit and identify the telltale chemical signals secreted by the cells when exposed to a drug known to cause autism.

The work is important because it is a critical first step toward fulfilling the promise of embryonic stem cells not only to screen drugs for safety but one day, possibly, to use the cells themselves as crucibles for making new drugs. What's more, the work shows that stem cells have an immediate clinical application as they generate chemicals, biomarkers, that can be used to predict the onset of disease, much like cholesterol or sugar in the blood can be used to forecast heart disease or diabetes.

"We're measuring active metabolites produced by the cells in response to an insult," explains Cezar, a UW-Madison professor of animal science. "These are de facto signatures of what is happening in response to a drug or a disease state."

In the new study, Cezar and her colleagues measured the response of undifferentiated stem cells as well as precursor neural cells to the drug valproate, which is known to cause autism in the offspring of a small percentage of users. The drug is used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disease and migraine headaches.

Cells exposed to the drug, according to the new study, secreted more of the small-molecule chemicals involved in development and in brain cell signaling than unexposed cells.

"Some of the chemicals we detected are critical for formation of the brain," Cezar explains. "It seems the drug may induce excess chemicals that alter neural development."

An increase in glutamate metabolism in cells exposed to valproate, for example, may be a critical clue to understanding what goes wrong in development to cause autism: "Excess glutamate kills neurons," says Cezar. "If you have higher levels during the formation of the brain, you may have fewer neurons of different types. In autism, there are areas of the brain where you have fewer neurons" than would occur under ordinary circumstances.

"Autism is a condition that begins during pregnancy," notes Cezar. "In this study, we asked what could valproate tell us about autism given its known involvement in a small percentage of cases? How does it make brain development different?"

Cells of all kinds use so-called small-molecule chemicals as a way to communicate with other cells. Precise communication between cells is essential for normal development and the health of an organism. Such chemicals can be detected in blood, suggesting it may be possible to devise simple tests that can provide disease diagnosis before birth or shortly after.

"These are small molecules that are indicators of susceptibility to disease," says Cezar.

The work by Cezar and her colleagues, including noted central nervous system expert Fred Gage of the Salk Institute, opens a raft of possibilities for early disease diagnosis of developmental disorders. In short, the ability to tune in to the chemical chatter of stem cells may become a promising new window to helping scientists figure out, at the most fundamental level, what goes wrong to cause things such as birth defects and miscarriage.

In addition, the work shows how human embryonic stem cells and early precursor cells can be used to screen drugs for potentially harmful effects. Drug discovery and testing had been predicted to be one of the first technologies to emerge from embryonic stem cells.


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 2,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ 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

New Induced Stem Cells May Unmask Cancer at Earliest Stage
A team of Wisconsin scientists observes the onset of the blood cancer leukemia by coaxing healthy and diseased human bone marrow to become embryonic-like stem cells.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
Gene Regulating Human Brain Development Identified
New findings by Wisconsin-Madison scientists reveal the main genetic factor responsible for instructing cells at the earliest stages of embryonic development.
Friday, July 02, 2010
Liver Cells Grown From Patients’ Skin Cells Could Lead to Treatment of Liver Diseases
Wisconsin scientists have successfully produced liver cells from patients’ skin cells opening the possibility of treating liver diseases.
Monday, October 12, 2009
California Company Licenses Human Embryonic Stem Cell Technology from WARF
BioTime signs licensing agreement with WARF for 173 patents and patent applications relating to human embryonic stem cell technology created at the UW-Madison.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
UW-Madison Scientists Guide Human Skin Cells to Embryonic State
Researchers reports the genetic reprogramming of human skin cells to create cells indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells in a paper to be published online.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Stem Cell Therapy Rescues Motor Neurons in ALS Model
University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists show that it is possible to rescue the dying neurons characteristics of ALS by using cell-based therapies.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
UW Launches Study Testing Adult Stem Cells for Repair of Heart Damage
The University of Wisconsin will take part in a clinical trial that involves investigation of patient’s own stem cells to treat severe coronary artery disease.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Scientific News
Crucial for Stem Cell Survival Protein Identified Using Editing Tool CRISPR
A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has identified a protein that is integral to the survival and self-renewal processes of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC).
A Gene-Sequence Swap Using CRISPR to Cure Haemophilia
For the first time chromosomal defects responsible for hemophilia have been corrected in patient-specific iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Scientists Create CRISPR/Cas9 Knock-In Mutations in Human T Cells
In a project spearheaded by investigators at UC San Francisco, scientists have devised a new strategy to precisely modify human T cells using the genome-editing system known as CRISPR/Cas9.
Zebrafish Reveal Drugs that may Improve Bone Marrow Transplant
Compounds boost stem cell engraftment; could allow more matches for patients with cancer and blood diseases.
New Material Forges the Way for 'Stem Cell Factories'
Researchers have discovered the first fully synthetic substrate with potential to grow billions of stem cells. The researchcould forge the way for the creation of 'stem cell factories' - the mass production of human embryonic (pluripotent) stem cells.
Liver Regrown from Stem Cells
Scientists have repaired a damaged liver in a mouse by transplanting stem cells grown in the laboratory.
Immunotherapy Shows Promise for Myeloma
A strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
'Google Maps' for the Body
Scientists have revealed research that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell that could be a game-changer for medicine.
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
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!