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Putting stem cell research on the fast track
Date:9/22/2007

t guidance is believed to be provided by a highly complex arrangement of genes. If researchers can isolate the specific genetic sequences that cause a stem cell to transform into a neural cell, the example that Kane used in his research, they can begin to develop medical treatments for common diseases like Parkinsons disease using specially programmed stem cells infected with the correct arrangement of genes to produce healthy neural cells.

Kane and his team developed a specialized stamping technique that can be used to quickly understand how different genetic sequences affect stem cell development. The stamp is covered with thousands of mircoscale prongs, similar to the surface of a LEGO. Those prongs imprint the surface of the corresponding slide, creating a microarray platform with thousands of individual cell-adhesive divots the perfect mircoscale Petri dishes. The master stamp can create thousands of stamped surfaces without the needs for a clean room or sophisticated machinery.

To develop the stem cell mixture added to the stamped surface, the researchers first created a stem cell library. Each stem cell within this library would overexpress a different genetic sequence. Cells from the library are then dropped onto the micropatterned surface, such that each divot contains only one type of cell. Those seeded populations then divide to form individual clonal populations of cells. A stamped surface the size of a microscope slide can contain 3,500 clonal cell populations. These populations can then be screened at the same time for researchers to determine which cells exhibit a desired behavior (i.e. the development of healthy neural cells). The researcher then immediately knows what DNA sequence is responsible for the observed behavior.

To exhibit the effectiveness of their technology, Kane and his group screened clonal populations of rat neural stem cells to identify a sequence that promoted neural stem cell proliferation.

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Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
demarg@rpi.edu
518-276-6542
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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