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An interdisciplinary team has found a solution to a problem plaguing developmental biology—long-term cell tracking and manipulation.
Mechanical engineer Adela Ben-Yakar, at the University of Texas at Austin, collaborated with stem cell biologist Joshua Brickman, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, to painstakingly develop an automated microfluidic device for the stable imaging of mice embryonic stem cells over a three-day period. They describe the device and its utility in Biomicrofluidics.
Cells - State - Differentiation - Stem - Cells
"Looking at single cells and seeing how, depending on their initial state, they respond, enables us to model the differentiation processes of stem cells and better control them," said Ben-Yakar.
To understand how people develop from embryos and what can go wrong at those early stages, developmental biologists study the mother of all cells—stem cells. By differentiation, stem cells give rise to all the different types of cells in our bodies, from the cells in our responsive retinas to those in tough toenails.
Stem - Cells - Bunch - Genes - Pattern
But stem cells are a diverse bunch, dynamically turning genes on and off in a pattern that can be unique from their neighbors. To really understand cause and effect—why this or that stimulus results in a specific cellular response—each stem cell requires separate examination. High-resolution microscopy is perfect for individually tracking cells and their cellular players, but it is technically challenging to perform long-term imaging while manipulating the temperamental stem...
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