24/7 Customer Service (800) 927-7671

Neurodegenerative disorders may meet their match with 3D micro-scaffold

by • March 17, 2016 • No Comments

Injecting reprogrammed stem cells into the brain to tackle neurodegenerative diseases isn’t a new thought, but a new technique can significantly improve the effectiveness of the treatment. A team of sceintists, led by researchers at Rutgers University, has created and conducted successful animal tests of a three-dimensional polymer micro-scaffold that dramatically improves cell survival rates next transplantation.

Whilst implanting neurons into the brain has the future to become an effective treatment version for combating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, past attempts have failed to create positive results. The problem with the treatment is that the survival rates of implanted neurons is incredibly low, severely limiting their future impact.

The new work looked to improve the situation by providing the cells with a scaffold that supports the growth of neuronal connections, that are capable of transmitting electrical signals. The implanted neurons themselves are human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), that are generated of adult stem cells via the introduction of the protein NeuroD1.

The team experimented with various types of various polymer fibers of differing density and thickness. They some day settled on a relatively thick polymer, and discovered that the amount of space between the fibers was an incredibly significant factor. If the fibers were arranged too loosely, and so the resulting network is badly organized, but if its packed too tight there isn’t adequate room for the cells to properly integrate with the scaffold.

“The optimal pore dimensions was one that was sizeable adequate for the cells to populate the scaffold, but small adequate that the variousiating neurons sensed the presence of their neighbors and created outgrowths resulting in cell-to-cell contact,” said paper co-author Prabhas Moghe.

The finished micro-scaffold was tested in the lab, with the researchers implanting the small neuron-carrying scaffolds into brain slices of mice, via a hypodermic needle. The effectiveness of the scaffold was compared to that of individual dissociated cells, that were in addition injected into brain slices under laboratory conditions. The results were incredibly positive, with the scaffolding increasing cell survival dramatically, while promoting neuronal outgrowth and electrical activity.

Spurred on by those findings, the researchers and so injected the scaffold-support neurons into the brains of live mice, once again alongside individual cells in solution. Compared to the unsupported cells, the scaffold resulted in a 40-fold cell survival rate increase. Those cells in addition expressed proteins involved in neural synapse growth, that strongly indicates that the implanted neurons are capable of integrating with the host’s brain and functioning as meant.

Whilst the testing has been incredibly positive, it’ll be a long time preceding the treatment can become on the market to neurodegenerative disease patients. That said, the researchers are hopeful that the technique can improve treatment, and are already working to tailor it specifically towards tackling Parkinson’s disease, fine-tuning scaffold materials to optimize the survival of dopamine-producing neurons.

The findings of the research were published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: NIH

Latest posts

by admin • March 5, 2017