Stem Cell Research – Science Update
Following up Bedford’s discovery that stem cells may be controlled by circadian rhythms.
Bedford Research scientists discovered that stem cells may need circadian rhythm signals. This insight would make them analogous to several types of cells in the body, including some cancer cells. If true, new methods of cell culture need to be developed to enhance stem cell development. Bedford Research scientists isolated a new line of stem cells from a research mouse (Per2Luc) whose cells glow when one of the circadian genes is active (Figure 1). Efforts to study the new Per2Luc stem cells have been hindered by the lack of a sensitive photo-microscope to detect and record the glow — until very recently. An exciting, new photo-microscope (LV200) is sensitive enough to capture circadian oscillations in the Per2Luc cells (Figure 1). This advance will allow more rapid studies of the importance of circadian signals to stem cell expansion and differentiation.
Stem cell differentiation into specific types of cells is an ongoing challenge.
For example, to treat spinal cord injury, stem cells must be differentiated into spinal cord cells. The process is step-wise and requires a precise order, analogous to learning a new skill. The small, round stem cells must remodel themselves into spinal cord cells with extensions that can reach out to other cells. Bedford Research scientists are developing two types of research cells that could greatly speed the research:
(1) Model stem cells that change color when they’ve reached a specific step in the process. Such engineering requires inserting genes for a colored protein into a location in the cell’s chromosomes that doesn’t alter the cell’s potential for growth and differentiation. For example, if the stem cell must go through six specific stages to become a spinal cord cell, it would be helpful to have model stem cells that change color at each stage, e.g. first red, then green, then orange, etc., in the required order (Figures 2 and 3). This could speed up the discovery process of the specific laboratory conditions needed to promote the step-wise differentiation into spinal cord cells.
(2) The differentiated stem cells need to be tested for safety in animal models. Research stem cells that are permanently colored, e.g. red, so they can be easily detected following transfer into an animal model would greatly facilitate safety studies.
Bedford Research scientists are taking advantage of new technology, developed in 2013, to create such model stem cells. The goal is to move stem cell research forward as fast as possible.
All contributions are 501(c)(3) tax deductible.
How our new technology works, what the Foundation is working on for treatments, and what will a cure using parthenote stem cells looks like (ps. We also define what a parthenote is in the video!).Watch it at our website or on youtube.
After 16 years in beautiful Davis Square, Somerville, MA, the Foundation has outgrown the current lab space and is moving to a larger facility. Complete update will appear in the fall newsletter.
Dr. Rene Meijer brings over 15 years’ experience leading teams in cell and molecular biology, protein engineering and medical diagnostics development. Dr. Meijer is collaborating on the protein engineering for the model research stem cells described inside. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego in the laboratory of Roger Tsien, 2008 Nobel Prize winner.