UCI Researchers Find Stem-Cell Breakthrough

A group of UC Irvine scientists recently published a study on a more efficient way to differentiate stem cells in the international journal, ‘Stem Cells.’
This new method will significantly enhance opportunities to examine stem cells, which have the ability to self-renew and develop into numerous different types of mature cells. Stem cells have the potential to reverse the effects of widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by relieving the loss of brain cells, spinal cord injuries and various other conditions through the replacement of dying cells.
The new DEP device uses dielectrophoresis to sort neural cells using their electric charges. The study found that different types of cells have different electric properties; therefore, stem cells intended to become astrocytes would react differently than those intended to become neurons. Specific frequencies will attract only certain types of cells.
‘We have electrodes and if the cells are attracted to the electrodes and others are repelled, that’s a way to pick yours,’ said Lisa Flanagan, a stem-cell biologist and head author of this study.
These findings overcome one of the crucial obstacles to realizing the vast potential of stem cells:identifying them from the numerous mixtures of various cells.
Flanagan explained that after experimenting with several different sources, the group of researchers decided to try DEP.
‘[Although] it has been around for a while