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publicado em 08/09/2011 às 19h56:00
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Researchers overcome obstacles to therapy and stem cell research

They overcame problems related to the differentiation process and the complications of cell purification

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Stem cells show great potential to allow treatment of diseases such as spinal injuries, or Lou Gehrig's disease, as well as research tools. One of the biggest problems is that slow disease researchers found major complications in the purification of mixtures of cells, for example, to remove the stem cells that can cause cell tumors developed for use in medical treatments. But a group of scientists at Scripps Research, working with colleagues in Japan have developed a clever solution to this problem of purification that should be more reliable, safer, and perhaps 100 times more expensive than other methods. The work appears in the current issue of Cell Research.

Effective tricks to separate stem cells from other types, are essential for many emerging medical treatments. A key problem is that in the process of differentiation, at least some stem cells, inevitably, remain undifferentiated and pluripotent state. These cells can grow to form tumors in patients if injected along with differentiated cells, a concern that has led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to delay clinical trials for promising therapies based on stem cells.

So far, almost all attempts at purification have focus on the development of antibodies - immune system cells attack - which can remove or destroy the stem cells in mixtures. But this approach has been lacking. Effective antibodies are difficult and expensive to develop, and their use in medical therapies raises security issues because they are produced in animals.

The Scripps research team, led by professor of developmental neurobiology, Jeanne Loring, was looking for a new way to solve the problems of security and cleansing. The group recently began experimenting with a chip-based tool known as lectin arrays. At various points in these devices, plants produce proteins, called lectins, which are linked. These lectins bind to specific sugars, including some found on the cell surface.

Working in the lab with the cellular components rather than whole cells, Loring's team first discovered that specific combinations of sugars and proteins, glycoproteins known as stem cells, bind, reliably, certain lectins. They were then able to explore this connection to purify mixtures phones. "When we found that there was a specific pattern of connection, we decided that he should go and we could use if the lectins to purify the cells. We tested the idea and it works very well, and lectins are readily available and cheap," said Yu -Chieh Wang, first author of the research paper.

After identifying the lectin that better bounds on stem cells, the group took the job to the next level, which is to show that they can really separate the stem cells. To achieve this, they first annexed the lectin into tiny granules. Then glânulos exposed to mixtures of these stem cells with no stem cells.

The researchers used a variety of different types of embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent cells, cells that are embryonic stem cells produced as to insert certain genes into skin cells. They included cell lines of research at Scripps and laboratories of the collaborators in Japan and the United States.

In all cases, the team found that stem cells linked well with glânulos, while the washed cells were almost all non-stem cells, this meant that both types of cells could be collected separately for use in research or treatments.

Possible uses for the new technique are essentially as numerous as the stem cells for themselves. Purification of lectin can be used with any variety of therapies currently in development. Besides low cost and reliability, the lectins used are plant products, so they do not exhibit the kind of security concerns that may arise from the use of antibodies produced by animal cells.

Even in more basic research, effective research using stem cells or differentiated cells generally require purification so that the effects can be identified and monitored without introducing complications of impurities in a group of cells.

Loring's group, for example, is studying the production of nerve cells, which can be used to treat a specific type of autism caused by a genetic mutation known. To produce the nerve cells require a laborious process, which will be more efficient with better purification.

Read the full (in English) on the website of The Scripps Research Institute:

   Palavras-chave:   Treatments    Diseases    Cells    Differentiation    Complication    Purification    Stem cells    Antibodies    Security    California    USA   
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