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Putting stem cell research on the fast track
Date:9/12/2007

e as a tool in the discovery of new drugs that target stem cells, Dordick said. He explained that although this three-dimensional system can be used to discover materials that support stem cell development and growth, not all stem cells are worth saving. New research is showing that some stem cells could be the precursor for cancer and the reason that cancer reappears after having been totally eradicated by chemotherapy,? he said. With this platform we may be able to rapidly screen new drug candidates that target and kill these stem cells. Instead of going for the mature liver cell that spreads cancer, we can catch a liver stem cell before it can kick off cancer development.

The device will enable drug researchers to quickly screen thousands of small molecules (the basic element of many modern drugs) for their impacts on the fate of stem cells.

Dordicks group was able to prepare up to 1,000 drops as small as 20 nanoliters on a chemically modified slide. The drops contained a mixture of mouse embryonic stem cells encased in a specialized gel. The researchers discovered that in this mixture, the cells remained viable and could be used in various forms of cell-based screening.

Helping Understand Gene Function in Stem Cells

A separate team led by Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Ravi Kane and Rensselaer doctoral student Randolph Ashton created a platform that will allow researchers to quickly understand how different genes impact stem cell function or development. Their research will be published in upcoming edition of the journal Stem Cells.

There are millions of DNA bases and tens of thousands of genes within the human genome, Kane said. In order to screen how all these different DNA sequences affect stem cell function you need an extremely high throughput method.

In order to become a specialized organ, tissue, or neural cell, a stem cell needs to be pointed in the right direction, and tha
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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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