Flow cytometry method sorts brain cells for potential transplants

University of Florida (UF; Gainesville, FL) scientists have discovered a method to separate necessary neurons during the process of generating brain cells for potential patient therapies, such as stem cell treatments for Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries and other brain disorders. Flow cytometry, a method that counts and separates cells, could make it possible to deliver the necessary neurons to patients, without including vast amounts of other types of unnecessary brain cells.

“We need to be able to deliver precise doses of our therapeutic drug, which in this case is neurons that are needed to restore function lost as a result of disease or injury,” said Brent A. Reynolds, a professor of neurosurgery with UF’s Evelyn F. and William L. McKnight Brain Institute. “Prior to the development of our technology, it was not possible to deliver highly pure populations of neurons, or to control the number of neurons that were delivered.”

Experimenting with neural stem cells from rodents, the UF scientists and colleagues from the Queensland Brain Institute at the University of Queensland (Brisbane, Australia) were able to generate hearty, immature cells fully committed to becoming neurons, making it possible to provide unlimited quantities of neurons from a safe, renewable source of cells for replacement therapies in the central nervous system.

In doing so, the UF scientists discovered that size does matter when it comes to isolating the different cell types. After noticing that neurons are small and appear in clusters that rest on top of a layer of other, larger brain cells, the scientists turned to flow cytometry. By suspending neural stem cell-progeny—or offspring—in a tissue culture medium and running it through the cytometer, the scientists could efficiently select and separate the neurons from the other, less desirable brain cells, solely based on their unique size and internal composition.

Flow cytometry allowed the scientists to set parameters for cell size and internal characteristics, as well as easily sort two different cell populations, says Hassan Azari, a post-doctoral research associate of neurosurgery at UF. It also enables isolation of large quantities of purified neurons to use as a donor source for cell replacement strategies to treat disorders such as Huntington’s disease, spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease, he says.

Clinical trials have begun for transplantation therapies using neural stem cells, with about a half-dozen groups around the world testing them for safety and efficiency, says Reynolds.

The method was recently published in the online journal PLoS ONE, and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, the Overstreet Foundation, the Florida Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Trust Fund, and the National Institutes of Health supported the work.

-----

Posted by Lee Mather

Follow us on Twitter, 'like' us on Facebook, and join our group on LinkedIn

Follow OptoIQ on your iPhone; download the free app here.

Subscribe now to BioOptics World magazine; it's free!

Get All the BioOptics World News Delivered to Your Inbox

Subscribe to BioOptics World Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest news and information.

 Subscribe Now
Related Articles

New bioimaging technique offers clear view of nervous system

Scientists at Ludwig-Maximilians University have developed a technique for turning the body of a deceased rodent entirely transparent, revealing the central nervous system in unprecedented clarity....

Eye test that pairs two in vivo imaging methods may detect Parkinson's earlier

A low-cost, noninvasive eye test pairs two in vivo imaging methods to help detect Parkinson's before clinical symptoms appear.

New lenses improve two-photon microscopy to image larger area of neuronal activity

By building on two-photon microscopy with new lenses, neuroscientists can better understand the behavior of neurons in the brain.

Optogenetics helps identify neurons that play important role in fear learning

Optogenetics helped to discover the process responsible for persistent reactions to trauma-associated cues.

BLOGS

Neuro15 exhibitors meet exacting demands: Part 2

Increasingly, neuroscientists are working with researchers in disciplines such as chemistry and p...

Why be free?

A successful career contributed to keeping OpticalRayTracer—an optical design software program—fr...

LASER Munich 2015 is bio-bent

LASER World of Photonics 2015 included the European Conferences on Biomedical Optics among its si...

White Papers

Understanding Optical Filters

Optical filters can be used to attenuate or enhance an image, transmit or reflect specific wavele...

How can I find the right digital camera for my microscopy application?

Nowadays, image processing is found in a wide range of optical microscopy applications. Examples ...

CONNECT WITH US

            

Twitter- BioOptics World