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How neurons grow: tracking stem cells

Thursday, March 24, 2016 - 10:49am

Extraordinarily novel, and painstaking, interdisciplinary research project to develop a better understanding of how neurons grow, connect and function:

Goodfellow, a graduate student in the University of Georgia's Regenerative Bioscience Center, has developed a unique approach of marrying stem cell biology and 3-D imaging to track and label neural stem cells. His findings were published in the journal Advanced Functional Material.

Using microscopic iron beads and a chicken egg, he and his colleagues were able to label neural stem cells and watch them for multiple days using magnetic resonance imaging—without harming the cell.

Very little is known about the unusual behavior of neural stem cells after experimental treatment. Understanding their whereabouts, keeping them safe from the body's own immune system and tracking the intended destination for repair in a noninvasive manner is the next important step in regenerative medicine therapy.

"The unknown is that big ‘black box' when people inject neural stem cells and have no idea where they go, or what they do-it's pretty invasive and inaccurate," said Steven Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center who is housed in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Among Stice's colleagues in this effort are Franklin College faculty members Qun Zhao and Gregory Simchick (physics and astronomy) in this effort. Bioimaging and MRI Physics are vital to the RBC work to be able to monitor what is happening in the egg as it happens, to help pull the shroud back on this 'black box,' as the researchers describe it. Fascinating work by some of our best, working together to achieve dynamic results.

Image: Forrest Goodfellow, a graduate student in the Regenerative Bioscience Center, studying neural stem cells and their behavior. (Credit: Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)


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