Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells, the cells that wrap nerve cells in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate.
The current research was done in mice and rats. If the approach also works with human cells, it could eventually lead to cell therapies for diseases like inherited leukodystrophies — disorders of the brain’s white matter — and multiple sclerosis, as well as spinal cord injuries. The study was published online April 14 inNature Biotechnology.
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Promotor: Maurilio Sampaolesi
Description: Testing drugs for the effect on heart muscle contraction in a high-throughput fashion has been hampered so far because human cardiomyocytes are hard to culture. Current methods either use single cells or animal experiments. The aim of this project is to create contractile cardiac tissue by tissue-engineering. Induced pluripotent stem cells will be used to create cardiomyocytes, since these provide a renewable source. Next, these cardiomyocytes can be tissue-engineered in bio-artifial cardiac muscle. Use of such cardiac muscle will open the path to a new way of measuring contractile force and rhythm. This approach opens the path towards a novel platform for (patient-specific) drug screening and can provide insights in cardiac development and function.
Research techniques will encompass (stem) cell culture, tissue engineering, Q-PCR, immunohistochemistry, image analysis and a flavor of biological data intelligence.