Forum für Wissenschaft, Industrie und Wirtschaft

Hauptsponsoren:     3M 
Datenbankrecherche:

 

Stem cells + nanofibers = Promising nerve research

08.11.2012
Researchers coax cells to grow and myelinate along thin fibers, with potential use in testing treatments for neurological diseases

Every week in his clinic at the University of Michigan, neurologist Joseph Corey, M.D., Ph.D., treats patients whose nerves are dying or shrinking due to disease or injury.


This shows an oligodendrocyte nerve cell (red/purple) wrapped around a polymer nanofiber (white/clear).

Credit: Univ. of Michigan/UCSF

He sees the pain, the loss of ability and the other effects that nerve-destroying conditions cause – and wishes he could give patients more effective treatments than what's available, or regenerate their nerves. Then he heads to his research lab at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, where his team is working toward that exact goal.

In new research published in several recent papers, Corey and his colleagues from the U-M Medical School, VAAAHS and the University of California, San Francisco report success in developing polymer nanofiber technologies for understanding how nerves form, why they don't reconnect after injury, and what can be done to prevent or slow damage.

Using polymer nanofibers thinner than human hairs as scaffolds, researchers coaxed a particular type of brain cell to wrap around nanofibers that mimic the shape and size of nerves found in the body.

They've even managed to encourage the process of myelination – the formation of a protective coating that guards larger nerve fibers from damage. They began to see multiple concentric layers of the protective substance called myelin start to form, just as they do in the body. Together with the laboratory team of their collaborator Jonah Chan at UCSF, the authors reported the findings in Nature Methods.

The research involves oligodendrocytes, which are the supporting actors to neurons -- the "stars" of the central nervous system. Without oligodendrocytes, central nervous system neurons can't effectively transmit the electrical signals that control everything from muscle movement to brain function.

Oligodendrocytes are the type of cells typically affected by multiple sclerosis, and loss of myelin is a hallmark of that debilitating disease.

The researchers have also determined the optimum diameter for the nanofibers to support this process – giving important new clues to answer the question of why some nerves are myelinated and some aren't.

While they haven't yet created fully functioning "nerves in a dish," the researchers believe their work offers a new way to study nerves and test treatment possibilities. Corey, an assistant professor of neurology and biomedical engineering at the U-M Medical School and researcher in the VA Geriatrics Research, Education and Clinical Center, explains that the thin fibers are crucial for the success of the work.

"If it's about the same length and diameter as a neuron, the nerve cells follow it and their shape and location conform to it," he says. "Essentially, these fibers are the same size as a neuron."

The researchers used polystyrene, a common plastic, to make fibers through a technique called electrospinnning. In a recent paper in Materials Science and Engineering C, they discovered new techniques to optimize how fibers made from poly-L-lactide, a biodegradable polymer, can be better aligned to resemble neurons and to guide regenerating nerve cells.

They're also working to determine the factors that make oligodendrocytes attach to the long narrow axons of neurons, and perhaps to start forming myelin sheaths too.

By attaching particular molecules to the nanofibers, Corey and his colleagues hope to learn more about what makes this process work -- and what makes it go awry, as in diseases caused by poor nerve development.

"What we need to do for multiple sclerosis is to encourage nerves to remyelinate," he says. "For nerve damage caused by trauma, on the other hand, we need to encourage regeneration."

In addition to Corey, the research has been led by Chan, the Rachleff Professor of Neurology at UCSF, VAAAHS lab team member and U-M graduate Samuel J. Tuck, U-M biomedical engineering graduate student Michelle Leach, UCSF's Stephanie Redmond, Seonook Lee, Synthia Mellon and S.Y. Christin Chong, and Zhang-Qi Feng of U-M Biomedical Engineering.

Peripheral nerves, which have neurons at the center surrounded by cells called Schwann cells, can also be studied using the nanofiber technique. The system could also be used to study how different types of cells interact during and after nerve formation.

Toward creating new nerves, Corey's lab has collaborated with R. Keith Duncan, PhD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology. Published in Biomacromolecules, they found that stem cells are more likely to develop into neurons when they are grown on aligned nanofibers produced in Corey's lab. They eventually hope to use this approach to build new nerves from stem cells and direct their connections to undamaged parts of the brain and to muscle.

Eventually, Corey envisions, perhaps nerves could be grown along nanofibers in a lab setting and then transferred to patients' bodies, where the fiber would safely degrade.

The research was supported by a VA Merit funding grant, the US National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Harry Weaver Neuroscience Scholar Award, the Paralyzed Veterans of America and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NS062796-02).

References:

Nature Methods 9, 917, (2012) doi:10.1038/nmeth.2105

Biomacromolecules, Article ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/bm301220k

Materials Science and Engineering: C, Volume 32, Issue 7, 1 October 2012, Pages 1779�

Important note for patients:

This research is still in the laboratory stages, and there are no immediate plans to perform studies in human patients. If you are interested in finding other opportunities to take part in medical research studies at U-M, please visit www.umclinicalstudies.org.

Kara Gavin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.umich.edu
http://www.umclinicalstudies.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Discovery of a fundamental limit to the evolution of the genetic code
03.05.2016 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Perfect imperfection
03.05.2016 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: MICROSCOPE sendet

Am Montag, 2. Mai 2016, erreichte die Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler vom Zentrum für angewandte Raumfahrttechnologie und Mikrogravitation (ZARM) der Universität Bremen die erste Erfolgsmeldung von ihrem Forschungs-Satelliten. Per Videoübertragung waren sie zugeschaltet, als die französischen Kollegen das Experiment an Bord von MICROSCOPE (MICRO Satellite à traînée Compensée pour l'Observation du Principe d'Equivalence) initialisierten und das Messinstrument die ersten Testdaten übermittelte. Damit ist der wichtigste Meilenstein der Testphase erreicht, bevor sich herausstellt, ob Einsteins Relativitätstheorie auch nach dieser Satellitenmission noch Bestand haben wird.

“#TSAGE @onera_fr is on. The test masses have been released and servo looped!!!! Great all green“ lautet die Twitter-Nachricht der französischen Partner, die...

Im Focus: Genauester Spiegel der Welt bei European XFEL in Hamburg eingetroffen

Der vermutlich präziseste Spiegel der Welt ist bei European XFEL in der Metropolregion Hamburg eingetroffen. Der 95 Zentimeter lange Spiegel ist ein wichtiges Bauteil des Röntgenlasers, der 2017 in Betrieb gehen soll. Auf den ersten Blick sieht er einem normalen Spiegel durchaus ähnlich, ist jedoch extrem flach und glatt. Die größten Unebenheiten auf seiner Oberfläche haben eine Dimension von gerade einmal einem Nanometer, einem milliardstel Meter. Diese Präzision entspräche einer 40 Kilometer langen Straße, deren maximale Unebenheit gerade einmal so groß ist wie der Durchmesser eines Haars.

Der Röntgenspiegel ist der erste von mehreren, die an unterschiedlichen Stellen der Anlage zum Spiegeln und Filtern des Röntgenlaserstrahls eingebaut werden....

Im Focus: Erste Filmaufnahmen von Kernporen

Mithilfe eines extrem schnellen und präzisen Rasterkraftmikroskops haben Forscher der Universität Basel erstmals «lebendige» Kernporenkomplexe bei der Arbeit gefilmt. Kernporen sind molekulare Maschinen, die den Verkehr in und aus dem Zellkern kontrollieren. In ihrem kürzlich in «Nature Nanotechnology» publizierten Artikel erklären die Forscher, wie bewegliche «Tentakeln» in der Pore die Passage von unerwünschten Molekülen verhindern.

Das Rasterkraftmikroskop (AFM) ist kein Mikroskop zum Durchschauen. Es tastet wie ein Blinder mit seinen Fingern die Oberflächen mit einer extrem feinen Spitze...

Im Focus: Nuclear Pores Captured on Film

Using an ultra fast-scanning atomic force microscope, a team of researchers from the University of Basel has filmed “living” nuclear pore complexes at work for the first time. Nuclear pores are molecular machines that control the traffic entering or exiting the cell nucleus. In their article published in Nature Nanotechnology, the researchers explain how the passage of unwanted molecules is prevented by rapidly moving molecular “tentacles” inside the pore.

Using high-speed AFM, Roderick Lim, Argovia Professor at the Biozentrum and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel, has not only directly...

Im Focus: 2+1 ist nicht immer 3 - In der Mikro-Welt macht Einigkeit nicht immer stark

Wenn jemand ein liegengebliebenes Auto alleine schiebt, gibt es einen bestimmten Effekt. Wenn eine zweite Person hilft, ist das Ergebnis die Summe der Kräfte der beiden. Wenn zwei kleine Teilchen allerdings ein weiteres kleines Teilchen anschieben, ist der daraus resultierende Effekt nicht notwendigerweise die Summe ihrer Kräfte. Eine kürzlich in Nature Communications veröffentlichte Studie hat diesen merkwürdigen Effekt beschrieben, den Wissenschaftler als „Vielteilchen-Effekt“ bezeichnen.

 

Alle Focus-News des Innovations-reports >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

IHR
JOB & KARRIERE
SERVICE
im innovations-report
in Kooperation mit academics
Veranstaltungen

Diabetes Kongress in Berlin beginnt heute

04.05.2016 | Veranstaltungen

UFW-Fachtagung im Vorzeichen von Big Data und Industrie 4.0

03.05.2016 | Veranstaltungen

analytica conference 2016 in München - Foodomics, mehr als nur ein Modebegriff?

03.05.2016 | Veranstaltungen

 
B2B-VideoLinks
Weitere VideoLinks >>>
Aktuelle Beiträge

Humboldt-Professur holt internationale Forscherstars nach Deutschland

04.05.2016 | Förderungen Preise

MICROSCOPE sendet

04.05.2016 | Physik Astronomie

Einzelne Lichtquanten führen logische Operationen aus

04.05.2016 | Physik Astronomie