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Embryonic stem cells thrive when shaken
Date:9/10/2007

ATLANTA (September 10, 2007) Embryos spend much of their time in the womb bobbing along with a mothers movement, and, surprisingly enough, new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University suggests that embryonic stem cells may develop much better under similarly shaky conditions.

Georgia Tech and Emory researchers discovered that moderate and controlled physical movement of embryonic stem cells in fluid environments, similar to shaking that occurs in the womb, improves their development and suggests that different types of movement could some day be used to control what type of cell they become. The research was published in the September issue of the journal Stem Cells.

Embryonic stem cells develop under unique conditions in the womb, and no one has ever been able to study the effect that movement has on that development process, said Todd McDevitt, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University and head of the project. While labs typically add all sorts of things to their cultures to influence cell direction, we were able to control the levels of differentiation and size of cell clusters by simply providing some fluid motion.

It all started with a fortunate accident. Rich Carpenedo, a graduate student and first author of the paper, discovered by chance that a dish of embryonic stem cells left on a common lab shaker (typically used to slowly mix samples) had developed in greater numbers and more uniformly than cells grown in a static environment (i.e. unshaken).

Current popular methods of developing embryonic stem cells in the lab involve single droplets of cells separated by a great deal of space in the dish. This time - and space-consuming technique allows the cells to develop without excessive clumping (a frequent problem for stem cells developed in the lab) and for a greater number to survive in a small space.

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Contact: Megan McRainey
megan.mcrainey@icpa.gatech.edu
404-894-6016
Georgia Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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