After noticing neurons are small and appear in clusters that rest on top of a layer of other, larger brain cells, researchers turned to a technique for counting and separating cells that is used in laboratories across the world called flow cytometry.
By suspending neural stem cell-progeny, or offspring, in a tissue culture medium and running it through the cytometer, UF researchers were able to efficiently select and separate the neurons from the other, less desirable brain cells, solely based on their unique size and internal composition.
"This is a simple, effective approach that other people have not yet taken to generate highly enriched or relatively pure populations of cells from renewable cell sources," said Hassan Azari, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research associate of neurosurgery at UF. "You set the parameters for cell size and internal characteristics, and you can easily sort two different cell populations. Using this technology, we can isolate large quantities of purified neurons to use as a donor source for cell replacement strategies to treat disorders such as Huntington's disease, spinal cord injury, Parkinson's disease many different problems."
Transplantation therapies using neural stem cells are finally moving into clinical trials, with about a half dozen groups around the world testing them for safety and efficiency, Reynolds said.
"When looking for efficacy, the ability to control the dose of the drug, which in this case is the number of neurons, cannot be understated," Reynolds said. "By purifying these cell populations, we can control the dose that we give. We can also ask questions in laboratory models to determine what dose is most effective.
"Whether it is going to work is yet to be seen," Reynolds said. "I think this technology is going to increase the chances or probability that tr
|Contact: John Pastor |
University of Florida