Seoul, South Korea, June 10, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Stem cells give rise to all other cells and tissues with specialized functions through a process called “differentiation,” in which stem cells divide to form daughter cells. This property of stem cells lends itself to practical applications in regenerative therapy, where functional healthy cells generated from stem cells can be used to heal wounds and cellular damage in our body.
However, differentiating stem cells in the laboratory requires careful preparation and adding differentiation factors to cell culture medium, a laborious and time-consuming process. Moreover, it largely depends on the skill of the researcher. In light of this, a new platform that facilitates a stable supply of differentiators over a long period of time is highly desirable.
In a new study, Korean researchers, led by Associate Professor Tae Hyung Kim from Chung-Ang University’s School of Integrative Engineering, came up with an ingenious solution. They developed a novel platform based on metallic organostructures (MOFs), hybrid crystalline porous materials constructed using metal ions and organic ligands (ions/molecules attached to the metal ion). Due to their porous nature, MOFs are excellent at trapping and releasing molecules of interest over a long period of time. This gave the team the idea of using MOFs to store and release the biocompatible nanoparticles needed for stem cell differentiation. This paper was published in volume 8, number 16 of the journal Scientists progress on April 20, 2022.
In their study, the team chose neural stem cells as a proof of concept and embedded nanoparticles loaded with retinoic acid, an essential component for neuronal differentiation, into the nanocrystalline MOF, nUiO-67. There was, however, a question to consider. “Adding nanoparticles directly to cell culture medium can lead to safety issues when used for therapeutic purposes and can also damage nanoparticle structures due to the presence of redox enzymes and reactive species of oxygen (ROS) in the intracellular environment”, explains Dr. Kim.
To circumvent this problem, the team separated the stem cells from the MOFs by creating a periodic pattern of arrays of nanowells using a technique called “laser interference lithography”.
By optimizing these nanowell arrays so that each array picks up a single MOF, the team developed the platform called “nanopit arrays embedded in single metal frame (MOF) nanoparticles” that could automatically convert cells strains into neurons.
SMENA offered two major advantages over the conventional method for in vitro stem cell differentiation. First, it avoided all the complex experimental steps and typical issues related to cell contamination and batch-to-batch variation. Second, and surprisingly, the continuous and stable supply of differentiation factors enabled accelerated differentiation, resulting in approximately 40-fold higher expression of neuronal cell markers (indicating neuron generation) compared to that of standard protocols. .
These findings got the team excited about SMENA’s future prospects.. “The platform developed in our study could facilitate and accelerate the use of various stem cell sources for clinical applications and drug screening. The functional cells produced by SMENA can be used to treat various diseases and disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. speculates Dr. Kim. The paper was also recently featured as a research highlight in Nature Reviews Materials by Associate Editor, Charlotte Allard.
We certainly hope that Dr. Kim’s visions of SMENA will come true soon!
Title of the original article: Arrays of nanopits embedded in a single metallic organic framework: a new way to control neural stem cell differentiation
Log: Scientists progress
DO I: https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abj7736
Seong Kee Shin
SOURCE Chung-Ang University