Inducing stem cells to become different cell types efficiently now possible using a three-dimensional platform

Dec 05, 2012

Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have the potential to form any cell type in the body, providing a powerful tool for drug discovery and regenerative medicine. Yet coaxing these cells to reliably take on a specific fate in the laboratory has proven challenging on a large scale. Now, a team of A*STAR stem cell researchers has developed a cell differentiation protocol in which iPS cells are propagated and expanded in a three-dimensional (3D) bioreactor to efficiently create neural progenitor cells.

"Such a method will be a boon for the nascent cell-therapy and drug-screening industry, as it will be able to produce vast amounts of cells for transplantation and in a reproducible manner," says Steve Oh at the A*STAR Bioprocessing Technology Institute in Singapore, who led the research.

Oh and his co-workers started with a so-called 'microcarrier' platform that they had previously developed for culturing human on the surface of small solid particles in a 3D suspension system. They optimized the technology for human iPS cells, demonstrating that protein-coated cylindrical microcarriers in stirred vessels, known as spinner flasks, coupled with twice-daily culture medium exchange, can support 20-fold expansion of reprogrammed stem cells. This yield was higher than any other reported system for growing batches of such cells.

Normally, iPS cells would then have to be painstakingly manipulated on a flat Petri plate to form more specialized cells. But, with just a simple change of the growth medium in the new 3D set-up, the researchers induced the cells to become neural precursors with up to 85% efficiency. This integrated process of and differentiation produced 333 for each iPS cell seeded. By comparison, the classic 2D tissue culture protocol, used by most scientists, gave rise to just 53 neural precursors per initial stem cell.

"The 2D approach is manually laborious, gives one-tenth of the yields and is variable from lab to lab," says Oh. "Microcarrier-based cultures provide larger surface areas for cell growth and more of them can be added to the system to increase the aggregate sizes and yields."

Oh and his team also coaxed the neural progenitors to further differentiate into many different types of brain cells, including neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes—the three primary neural lineages. In the future, notes Oh, such neurons could be used to treat Parkinson's disease, for example; and, oligodendrocytes could be transplanted to overcome spinal cord injuries.

Explore further: Brand new technology detects probiotic organisms in food

More information: Bardy, J., Chen, A. K., Lim, Y. M., Wu, S., Wei, S. et al. Microcarrier suspension cultures for high-density expansion and differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells to neural progenitor cells. Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods advance online publication, 4 September 2012 (doi: 10.1089/ten.tec.2012.0146). http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/ten.tec.2012.0146

Chen, A. K.-L., Chen, X., Choo, A. B. H., Reuveny, S. & Oh, S. K. W. Critical microcarrier properties affecting the expansion of undifferentiated human embryonic stem cells. Stem Cell Research 7, 97–111 (2011). www.sciencedirect.com/science/… ii/S1873506111000614

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stem cells reverse disease in a model of Parkinson's disease

May 16, 2011

In a new study to be published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers compared the ability of cells derived from different types of human stem cell to reverse disease in a rat model of Parkinson disease and id ...

New study hopeful on neural stem cells

Aug 05, 2006

Neural stem cells derived from federally approved human embryonic cells are inferior to stem cells derived from donated fetal tissue, a new study found.

Recommended for you

Fighting bacteria—with viruses

9 hours ago

Research published today in PLOS Pathogens reveals how viruses called bacteriophages destroy the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. diff), which is becoming a serious problem in hospitals and healthcare institutes, due to its re ...

Atomic structure of key muscle component revealed

9 hours ago

Actin is the most abundant protein in the body, and when you look more closely at its fundamental role in life, it's easy to see why. It is the basis of most movement in the body, and all cells and components ...

Brand new technology detects probiotic organisms in food

Jul 23, 2014

In the food industr, ity is very important to ensure the quality and safety of products consumed by the population to improve their properties and reduce foodborne illness. Therefore, a team of Mexican researchers ...

Protein evolution follows a modular principle

Jul 23, 2014

Proteins impart shape and stability to cells, drive metabolic processes and transmit signals. To perform these manifold tasks, they fold into complex three-dimensional shapes. Scientists at the Max Planck ...

Report on viruses looks beyond disease

Jul 22, 2014

In contrast to their negative reputation as disease causing agents, some viruses can perform crucial biological and evolutionary functions that help to shape the world we live in today, according to a new report by the American ...

User comments : 0