Chemists influence stem-cell development with geometry

Posted By News On March 17, 2010 - 7:50pm
Chemists influence stem-cell development with geometry

The UChicago team found that making cells assume a star shape promotes a tense cytoskeleton, which provides structural support for cells, while a flower shape promotes a looser cytoskeleton. "On a flower shape you get the majority of cells turning to fat, and on a star shape you've got the majority of cells turning into bone," said Kris Kilian, a National Institutes of Health Fellow in Mrksich's research group. The UChicago team published its findings in the March 1 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mrksich cautioned that the method is far from ready for use in the harvest of stem cells for therapeutic use, but it does signal a potentially promising direction for further study.

Mrksich's research group has a long history of developing methods for patterning surfaces with chemistry to control the positions, sizes and shapes of cells in culture, and applying those patterned cells to drug-discovery assays, and studies of cell migration and cell adhesion.

Milan Mrksich, University of Chicago Professor in Chemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, discusses the geometry of stem cell development in this video.

(Photo Credit: Steve Koppes with Jason Smith photos)

The Gordon Center for Integrative Science at the University of Chicago was designed to foster interdisciplinary collaborations. One such collaboration involves the stem-cell research between the laboratories of Milan Mrksich, Professor in Chemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and Bruce Lahn, Professor in Human Genetics. ?This is a powerful example of how a building that brings researchers from different areas together leads to these kinds of exciting studies,? Mrksich said.

(Photo Credit: Peter Kiar)

Kristopher Kilian, National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Chicago, and his associates are using shape to control stem-cell development. Their article on the method appears in the March 1 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

(Photo Credit: Jason Smith)

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