Scientists Grow Spinal Cord tissues in a Lab

Embryonic Stem cell research has been a widly discussed topic in recent life science research field as this has the pottential to develop various organs in a laboratory environment using Stem Cells. Specially Stem Cells may be useful as a source of cells for transplantation or tissue engineering.

In the past few years, researchers have used stem cells to grow windpipes, bladders, urethras and vaginas in the lab, and, in some cases, successfully transplanted them into patients.

In few researches which are currently underway in London researchers are trying to grow blood vesels and Livers which are ready to Transplant within a human body. And now a team in Dresden University of Technology in Germany have been able to grow a Spinal Cord in a 3D gel using mouse embryonic stem cells.

According to a research article they published in inducing organogenesis in 3D culture is an important aspect of stem cell research. Anterior neural structures have been produced from large embryonic stem cell (ESC) aggregates, but the steps involved in patterning such complex structures have been ill defined, as embryoid bodies typically contained many cell types.

Here the team have shown that single mouse ESCs directly embedded in 3D culture under neural induction conditions can clonally form neuroepithelial cysts containing a single lumen. Untreated cysts were uniformly dorsal and could be ventralized to floor plate (FP). Further treatment using Retinoic acid posteriorized cysts to cervical levels and induced formation of the basic Spinal Cord formation patterns including Correct spatial organization of motor neurons, interneurons, and dorsal interneurons along the Dorsal/Ventral axis.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people around the world suffer partial or complete paralysis due to spinal cord injuries, but efforts to develop effective treatments have so far met with little success.

This latest study will not immediately lead to new treatments, but the ability to grow patterned spinal cord tissue efficiently will undoubtedly prove useful to those who are trying to develop them. It could also provide researchers with a new way of studying spinal cord development, which could help them to learn more about congenital disorders such as spina bifida.

Refernces –

Meinhardt, A., et al. (2014). 3D Reconstitution of the Patterned Neural Tube from Embryonic Stem Cells. Stem Cell Reports, DOI:10.1016/j.stemcr.2014.09.020. article –