Stem cell insight: Raman platform

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  • Published: Dec 1, 2019
  • Author: David Bradley
  • Channels: Raman
thumbnail image: Stem cell insight: Raman platform

Makes biosense

This unique biosensing platform consists of an array of ultrathin graphene layers and gold nanostructures. The platform, combined with high-tech imaging (Raman spectroscopy), detects genetic material (RNA) and characterizes different kinds of stem cells with greater reliability, selectivity and sensitivity than today’s biosensors.  Image: Letao Yang, KiBum Lee, Jin-Ho Lee and Sy-Tsong (Dean) Chueng

A biosensing platform based on graphene and gold nanostructures will allow Raman spectroscopy to monitors the fate of stem cells used to treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases by imaging the RNA involved in the conversion process as stem cell changes into neurons.

Researchers from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, USA and from Sogang University in South Korea discuss the therapeutic potential of stem cells in a paper in the journal Nano Letters and how stems cells undergo the requisite changes for such therapies. Stem cell therapy has long been hailed as a very promising treatment for neurodegenerative disorders given that neurons cannot otherwise be replaced in the brain. Indeed, they have potential in treating Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke and spinal cord injury where diseased or damaged cells are replaced by a new cohort from the specialisation of the undifferentiated stem cells grafted into the tissues to be repaired.

Character building

Now, characterizing stem cells and controlling their fate could be a step closer without the problems of uncontrolled transformation and cancer growth, thanks to new insights that will now be accessible with the Raman technology.

"A critical challenge is ensuring high sensitivity and accuracy in detecting biomarkers - indicators such as modified genes or proteins - within the complex stem cell microenvironment," explains Rutgers' KiBum Lee. "Our technology, which took four years to develop, has demonstrated great potential for analyzing a variety of interactions in stem cells." The team's biosensing platform is unique and can be used to detect genes and characterize different types of stem cells with great reliability, selectivity and sensitivity, outperforming current technologies by far.

Diverse diseases

The researchers suggest that their technology might be of benefit in a wide range of applications. By developing simple, rapid and accurate sensing platforms, the team hopes to facilitate treatment of neurological disorders through stem cell therapy. The researchers point out that stem cells might become a renewable source of replacement cells and tissues to treat not only neurodegenerative diseases but eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, burns to the skin, heart disease, the pancreas in diabetes, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Related Links

Nano Lett, online: "Dual-Enhanced Raman Scattering-Based Characterization of Stem Cell Differentiation Using Graphene-Plasmonic Hybrid Nanoarray"

Article by David Bradley

The views represented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

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