ICBR Cytometry Assists in Regenerative Medicine Research
Dr. Ana Conesa has designed a project to study the role of RNA splicing in the differentiation of neural stem cells into functional motoneurons and oligodendrocytes. The relevance of this study is to understand how neural stem cells can be applied in regenerative medicine treatments, for example for spinal cord injuries. Neural stem cells are present in the adult central nervous system and retain the amazing ability to change or differentiate into new neurons. Dr. Conesa wants to study each individual step involved to precisely understand the molecular processes triggering the generation of new neurons from existing stem cells.
To be able capture these steps, Dr. Conesa enlisted the help of ICBR’s cytometry core. Through discussions between Dr. Conesa’s lab and ICBR Cytometry, a panel of cell surface proteins unique to each step in the differentiation process was identified. Using cell analytical instrumentation at ICBR Cytometry, these markers were used to sort cells into five different differentiation stages. Pools of cells from each stage of differentiation will then be separated into single cells from which RNA will be prepared and analyzed.
Using sophisticated analysis programs developed by the Conesa lab, the data from multiple single cells of the same stage will be analyzed to create mathematical models of changes in gene expression responsible for driving differentiation. With this knowledge the Conessa lab hopes to be able to effectively manipulate the process of neuronal stem cell differentiation with the eventual hope of initiating and controlling the growth of new neurons for treating spinal cord injuries.