Electric Fields and Microfluidics Reveal Neural Stem Cell Fate Potential

LifeChips Seminar Series

Featuring Lisa A. Flanagan, Ph.D.

Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center

Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

University of California, Irvine

Free and open to the public - refreshments provided


Development of a label-free method for purifying stem cells prior to transplantation would remove a significant roadblock for the use of stem cells as therapies for human disease and injury.  Generation of homogeneous populations of cells for transplantation will help define the precise contributions of specific cell types to repair and remove unwanted tumorigenic cells prior to transplantation. We have developed novel microfluidic dielectrophoresis (DEP) devices that distinguish neural cell types without the use of markers, which are necessary for most conventional cell separation techniques. Our data show that DEP distinguishes stem cells from more differentiated progeny and dielectric properties consistently reflect fate potential across multiple sets of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) and over time in culture.  Exposing mouse and human NSPCs to DEP forces necessary for cell separation did not alter survival, proliferation, or differentiation, establishing DEP as non-toxic. Furthermore, high frequency DEP can be used to enrich NSPCs biased to make neurons, confirming our hypothesis that DEP-based sorting can isolate NSPCs with specific fate potential.

About the Speaker:

Lisa A. Flanagan, Ph.D., is an assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of California, Irvine.  Her research focuses on the regulation of stem cells and their differentiation along neuronal lineages. Using mouse and human neural stem cells, Dr. Flanagan’s lab is investigating the role of extracellular matrix cues in these processes with the goal of developing three-dimensional biomaterials suitable for use as transplantation scaffolds for cell-based therapies. They are also exploring novel approaches using microfluidics to manipulate and characterize stem cells in collaboration with members of the Biomedical Engineering Department at University of California, Irvine.  Dr. Flanagan received her B.S. in Zoology/Psychology from Duke University and her Ph.D. from the Neuroscience Program at UCSD.

LifeChips Seminar Series are brought to you by the IGERT fellows of the LifeChips Program.

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