Finding cures for children's genetic diseases

Research

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Stem Cell & Organoid Facility

Pluripotent stem cells, including embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), are undifferentiated cells that can differentiate into any cell type in the human body.  They can survive and replicate indefinitely in the dish providing an unlimited source of cells for regenerative medicine, modelling diseases and development of new therapeutic approaches.  For example, large numbers of drugs can be tested to find suitable treatments; this is called drug screening. Stem cell research provides an exciting model and tool for numerous areas of research. We are setting up a laboratory facility that will provide a variety of services to other researchers which will increase the scope of stem cell research at CMRI and affiliated Institutions. Our goal is to create a broadly available resource of iPS cells and derivative tissues.
 

iPS cell reprogramming

The generation of iPS cells is referred to as reprogramming and involves the expression of four pluripotency genes in adult cells, such as skin and blood cells. We utilise efficient episomal reprogramming methods to deliver these pluripotency genes. The Facility aims to participate in a number of iPS cell reprogramming, expansion and banking projects.
 

 
Derivation of iPS cells

Maintenance of iPS cell lines

Access to a number of fully characterised cell lines is sometimes impossible within the constraints of individual laboratories due to the laborious processes needed to maintain these cells. Each time a new cell line is established, optimisation of media and matrices is required.
The Facility will establish and culture pluripotent stem cells under optimal culture condition in order to maintain their pluripotency and avoid differentiation. It will also routinely culture a number of iPS cell lines that will be accessible to other researchers.
 

Differentiation of iPS cell lines

 
Cell type specific population of cells
iPS cell cultures can be differentiated into specific cell types. A number of robust differentiation protocols have been developed to generate highly purified cultures of progenitors as well as mature cell types. The Facility will offer cultures of neurons, cardiomyocytes and hepatocytes. Other cell types can be added if there is sufficient interest.
 
Organoids
Organoids are mini-organs grown in the dish using 3D differentiation systems. These offer ideal models to investigate biology of tissues and organs. Organoids can be derived not only from pluripotent stem cells but also from adult stem/progenitor cells. Differentiation of other organoids, such as brain, liver, heart can be investigated and developed as demand arises.organoid.jpg

3D image of a mouse ESC-derived inner ear organoid showing Myosin7a hair cells (green) and neurons (red)