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Using Liquid Crystals to Guide Stem Cells 104

An anonymous reader writes "Liquid crystals, the same phase-shifting materials used to display information on cell phones, monitors and other electronic equipment, can also be used to control the differentiation of embryonic stem cells, Wisconsin researchers say. By using the crystals to mechanically strain the cells, they can prevent the indiscriminate (and unwanted) differentiation common in embryonic stem cell research and therapy. So when you want a bone cell, say, you don't end up with one from the kidney."
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Using Liquid Crystals to Guide Stem Cells

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  • Science? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:13PM (#14879958)
    Sounds more like black voodoo magic wizardry to me. If God wants it to be a bone cell, they by His name, it will be a bone cell.
    • What? You need God to "bone home"?
    • Re:Science? (Score:3, Funny)

      by ArcherB ( 796902 )
      Sounds more like black voodoo magic wizardry to me

      BLACK voodoo magic? Why does it always have to be a black thing with you?
    • by jd ( 1658 )
      ...if the bone cell has a top hat and tap-dances to Live And Let Die.
    • Apparently, God decided that we should have brain cells, and our brain cells give us the capacity to learn all sorts of things - including perhaps, how to properly cause planned differentiation of cells in culture.

      And apparently, we are blessed with the free will to choose not to use our brains, or not use them very well.

      To say "No, you should not learn this, if God wanted you to know it or be able to do it already, you'd know or be able to do it," seems silly - if you are toilet trained. We're not born kno
      • The most intelligent writing I've seen on here for a long time! Someone at last speaking sense in this world.
  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@ya ... .com minus punct> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:16PM (#14879975) Homepage Journal
    Embryonic stem cells are stems cells that are going to waste anyways. Left over from in vitro fertilization.
    They are from the from the blastocyst stage,and about 128 cells.

    also:
    http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/scireport/chapter2.a sp [nih.gov]
    • by Anonymous Coward
      According to the bible, as well as the Catholic Church, the body doesn't begin life until blood flows through it. The body first has blood flowing through at approximately the 40th day, so using these extremely young blastocysts means that the stem cells aren't living people, thus we can't murder them. So we can use them.
      • I believe the scripture reference you should use to defend your argument can be found in Leviticus 17:11. Be careful, I agree with you, but this verse (coming out of a NIV Bible) should not be streched to say something it is not. If you found anything else, in any Bible, that can prove what you are saying, please post it.

        It is really ironic, the verse I mentioned was quoted on CSI.
      • The body first has blood flowing through at approximately the 40th day, so using these extremely young blastocysts means that the stem cells aren't living people, thus we can't murder them.

        From a strictly biological perspective...

        ...multicellular living things are the result of the growth and development from one cell.... In this process of development, to what extent is its life that of the cell, and from whence comes the life of the living thing as a whole? There is no distinct boundary. The organic

      • Well, no, the catholic church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception, not "when blood begins to flow". Where did you come up with that??
      • According to many people our 'self awareness' that makes us 'human over animals' is our soul. According to science this happens when the frontal lobes start to gain their myelin sheath, this doesn't happen until several months after birth.

        If the 'baby' has no soul then it is an animal and killing it is not murder.

        At around the age of 10 the their are still large areas of the frontal lobes that still do not have a myelin sheath, and even at the age of 20 the myelin sheath isn't complete. That's probably why
        • But what about an animal that could evolve into a human? That's a baby. I personally think that there should be an alternative to abortion - like the fetus being removed and artifically raised(though I personally think that everything natural is the best way, it is better than killing them. I have heard some convincing argumetns for abortion, so I still sit on the fence. However, there will always be abortions for more "valid" reasons, and dead embryos, so obtaining Stem Cells is not necessarily a problem.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Easy: just outlaw in vitro fertilization, not just abortions.

      After all, one abortion kills a single embryo, but one in-vitro fertilization kills 100's of embryos for each that is emplanted (and grows into a baby)
      • Interfering with the privacy of a man and a woman and the privacy of their reproductive choices is considered insightful? We're doomed.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:33PM (#14880293)
      I hope the following make it clear that stem cell research of any form does NOT need, or involve, the destruction of an embryo. Current hype is used specifically to harvest the votes of well-meaning, but maleducated populace.

      IMACB (I Am A Cell Biologist), and I suggest you also look some of this up in your college-level bio text, or talk to a bio prof, they will love it:

      1) Absolute majority of stem cells are not people, and cannot be grown into them.
      2) The only stem cells that can be grown into a human being are the omnipotent cells created within the first 2-3 cell divisions past the fertilization.
      3) Any cell harvested after the 8-cell stage becomes pluri-potent, and can grow into adult human tissue, but will NOT form some of the embryonic tissues, such as placenta, under any condition (no placenta-> no new human possible).
      4) Stem cells harvested from tissues of adults are called adult stem cells (d'oh); these are multi-potent, meaning they can only make some, but not all, of the tissues of an adult. E.g. bone marrow stem cells will only make blood cells.
      5) Under some conditions, adult SCs of one tissue type may be coaxed into turning into another developmentally related tissue type (e.g. skin SCs may be grown into neurons). Like cells in 3), these will never directly grow into another human.

      In terms of usefulness:
      1) Adult stem cells are hardest to control, and are least promising for research, but may help combat some types of cancer.
      2) Pluripotent stem cells are easiest to manipulate and will have lots of applications in geriatrics, damage reconstruction, cancer, AIDS, etc. People I personally know have shown that these may be used to treat Parkinson's (in rats), as well as replace ischemia-induced brain damage (a group rebuilt a damaged brain in mice); clearly there are lots more things going on, but application to humans will require volunteers, changes in law, and massive infusions of cash.
      Most importantly, acquisition of these cells does NOT require the destruction of embryos. One could harvest these cells, and the embryo will (to the best of our knowledge) develop normally. Vital extraction is more expensive, however, and does carry some risk to the embryo. Additionally, using such extracted cells will not destroy a human life, since a human cannot be grown from such cells, under any conditions.

      3) Cells from before the 8-cell stage of embryo developments are as powerful as cells in 2), but are harder to control. While these may also be harvested with little side effects (can take one for research, leave 7, and these 7 will still grow into a normal baby), the one cell we take out can also be grown into a baby, hence some might call it "destroying life", but common sense here suggests the original embryo will survive, so "borrowing" that one cell is not killing life.

      Bottom line? Stem cells do not need to involve destruction of embryos. We have the technology to only "borrow" some of the cells from a human embryo, and let it develop normally. The reason surplus embryos (from in vitro fertilization treatments and such) are currently destroyed after harvesting is because whoever donates those embryos does NOT want them back. It is trivial to just "borrow" a few cells and give back the embryos to implant.

      Once again, stem cells !=destruction of life.
      • "3) Cells from before the 8-cell stage of embryo developments are as powerful as cells in 2), but are harder to control. While these may also be harvested with little side effects (can take one for research, leave 7, and these 7 will still grow into a normal baby)"

        As an adult I would be very unhappy to find out one of my cells had been removed as an embryo, even though I may well be a fully healthy adult. I would consider it a violation of my human rights to abuse my existence without my fully informed cons
        • I would consider it a violation of my human rights to abuse my existence without my fully informed consent

          So you're saying we should wait until you're completely mentally and legally competent before performing any medical procedure upon you? IANAL, but it is my understanding that a minor (an embryo is definitely under the age of consent) the parents have the sole rights to grant consent for any procedure whether the child understands it or not. Ergo, as an embryo, your parents would have to give consen

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:23PM (#14880000)
    ...is to grow a new 19' LCD monitor. can we do that? No? Oh screw Bush and his policies
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:25PM (#14880007)
    ..from the cells of new life. (Yes, I believe life begins at fertilization).

    Destroying life to build and enhance ours.

    Sorry, but I don't want to be part of that brave new world.
    • I do not deny that there are ethical issues here. I also think condeming others to death by supressing or crippling scientific advancment is wrong. As wrong as using this reaserch for anything other than life saving purposes. Long and short: your views are valid but you have no right to force them on others or make those who bleave diffrent things sound like monsters. If you don't want to be a part of the "brave new world" then don't.
      • Long and short: your views are valid but you have no right to force them on others or make those who bleave diffrent things sound like monsters

        I agree whole heartedly. That's why I think the president's "compromise" was so brilliant. The President did not outlaw embryonic research, he simply won't allow for tax payer money to support getting new stem cell lines from embryos. The President does provide money for research using existing stem cell lines. He is the first president to do so.

        I personally am n
    • Technically, life even begins before fertilization since eggs and sperm are living entities.
    • Funny how the parent is flame bait, but this [slashdot.org] is interesting. I'm glad the moderators are living up to the standard of impartiality.
      • At least he was referencing some source to back up his facts.

        An unfortunate number of Jesus lovers can't quote relevant sections of the New/Old Testament to support their positions. They just take it on faith that the Bible supports their position.

        You can't argue with someone who hasn't put any thought into their positions. Someone who has read background material, will hopefully have thought about what they've read.

        I know "you must be new here" because people RTFA all the time and make ignorant statements,
        • The initial comment here was no more grounded in empirical data than the +5 Insightful Linux fan boy postings.

          Out of curiosity, why do people like you dislike Christianity so much? I realize you think its stupid, anti-scientific, etc., but there are many things I have low opinions of without holding hostile attitudes toward.
          • We do not dislike it because it is stupid, anti-scientific, etc. We dislike it because many of the most vocal followers are stupid, anti-scientific, etc AND they interfere with our lives. It's not the holding of opinions that bugs us, it's the actions.
            I can get along fine with a Christian who minds his own business.
            • I suppose I see that going both ways. It seems like forcing Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, advocating against Intelligent Design being taught in schools, or advocating for female priests seems like quite a bit of meddling in the lives of Christians. In the defense of Christians though, they think they are doing God's work by saving the heathens or something, whereas anti-Christians who try to meddle with things that are isolated to Christians just seem to be going on their dislike for them. Is it
          • people like you

            And who would that be?
            You don't know me.

            Anyways, I can respect most people who have thought out their positions and are able to handle a discussion on the matter.

            I take a hostile attitude towards anyone who chooses to hold religious or philosophical beliefs without doing some independant thinking.

            I know people who hold (in my opinion) rediculous beliefs for no better reason than "that's just how I think." All their explanation means is that they are basing their belief on assumptions and prej

            • Correct, I don't know you, hence, the question.

              I suppose the best inference I can draw is that you dislike Christians because there beliefs are unscientific? That gets back to my question, what's it to you? Out of curiosity, what do you think of Islam?
        • So where are the facts in your, and all these people attacking Christianity's, arguments? How much background material have you read about Christian support for stem cell research? Guess what: most Christians support it.

          73% of Christians polled by the Harris Group in a large, well-designed study (95% CI) favored it. (http://www.harrisinteractive.com/harris_poll/ind e x.asp?PID=488 [harrisinteractive.com])

          I'm sorry if a small minority of fundamentalists you see on the local news make us look bad, but why don't you try reading t

    • Don't be a hypocrite- stop eating. You're continuing life from other life.
    • A virus is a form of life, when it invades out cells it creates new life, should we ban anti virals? Are you a christian scientist?
    • Destroying life to build and enhance ours.

      Sorry, but I don't want to be part of that brave new world.


      You eat food, don't you? How is that different?

      And I agree with the other comments - life begins with the creation of the sperm and egg cells. Sorry, you can't use the biological definition of "life" when it suits you, but not when it doesn't.
    • Destroying life to build and enhance ours.

      Sorry, but I don't want to be part of that brave new world.


      "If God does not understand what we must do here today... Then he is not God."

      Apoligies to the Kingdom of Heaven [imdb.com].
    • I suggest that you stop eating any animals or plants them. Oh, and try not to move or speak, because that will cause your body to shed cells, especially epithelial cells.

      And in any case, if a stem cells _does_ happen to come from an aborted fetus, I'd prefer to think of it as life being allowed to continue when otherwise it would have been lost completely.

      Human beings seem perfectly willing to destroy life to enhance their own, when it's convenient, or when they can pretend that other life is somehow less v
    • What do you think about people who donate blood? And what of people who wish their organs to be donated upon untimely death? In these procedures, living cells are transfered from one body to another without causing significant harm to the donator. A single stem cell can be removed from a living human embryo without significantly affecting development. No death of the embryo is necessary. In parallel, if an embryo does die, however, wouldn't it seem ethical and even morally approvable to salvage some of
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:25PM (#14880010) Homepage Journal
    ...with having a spare kidney growing instead of a stomach cell? If it works, it'll help make NHS food edible. If it doesn't, it'll replace the NHS food altogether.
  • by mrpeebles ( 853978 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:28PM (#14880021)
    Makes you wonder if 100 years from now, after display technology has moved on to God-knows-what, people think LC technology primarily as some sort of biotechnology, sort of like we think of the radar device in our microwave as being primarily a cooking device, or the mirror as a safety device in cars. Then the moment is over, and you post whatever your view is on the personhood of embryonic stem cells.
    • From memory, cell membrane's are made of liquid crystal molecules. Memory's hazy, but it goes something like this:

      ( o = water molecule, => carbon liquid crystal molecule )

      o => <= o o
      o o=> <= o
      o => <= o o (inside of cell)
      o o=> <= o
      o => <= o o
      o o=> <= o
      \ \ \____ inner layer
      \ \_________ charged void
      \______ outer layer

      The chain of
  • by RoffleTheWaffle ( 916980 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:39PM (#14880073) Journal
    "I could've sworn I was going to have my bone tissues replaced, but somehow my femur feels a lot like a kidney today..."
  • Not always... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Upaut ( 670171 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:45PM (#14880092) Homepage Journal
    From in vitro fertilization. You can also get these cells from theraputic cloning. Take a good cloning cell (hair folicle or gut work best. Basically cells that divide most often into themselves.), take an egg cell (Or, if your really good, some studies have shown you can get adult stem cells to become a reproductive cell. Though that technology is a bit far behind to work for this example. Ten years from now -or a week, can never tell when an advancement like that will be made- then you could get as many egg cells from your own body, regardless of sex, and for a lot less pain of finding a donor and injecting her with a shitload of hormones, then plunging a harvesting needle into her abdomen... And it would be a "true" clone, with the mitotic DNA being the same.) Make a slit in egg, remove nucleus. Make a slit in donor cell, remove nucleus. Put donor nucleus in egg cell. Apply a small shock to promote healing and division. Wait a few days. Now you have perfect embrionic stem cells that are a match to your own DNA. Do this a few times to ensure you get at least one healthy sample.

    Now you can take these cells, and make new neural tissue, for treating diseases like parkinsons. Or fit into a mold for a new bladder (they managed to make this in dogs), or use the technology of the bladder example, advance it in a few years, and you could make genetically identicle livers and kidneys. Or a new pancreus, good for some insulin goodness, and help the adult onset diabeties.
    • Re:Not always... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )
      " Make a slit in egg, remove nucleus."

      That would be the tricky part. No one can do this yet. Suk claimed to, but it turns out he was a big fat liar. On the plus side, this shows that the scientific method of publication works.
    • Or a new pancreus, good for some insulin goodness, and help the adult onset diabeties.
      Not to nitpick, but a new pancreas would be good for Type I diabetics (like me), which used to be called juvenile-onset diabetes. In Type II, which usually hits older people, the pancreas is happily making insulin, but the other cells have trouble using it. My pancreas is as dead as Elvis, so stem-cell based advances would be A Good Thing, in my opinion.
  • Although it is possible to envision such wonderful things as being able to tell differentiated cells from pluripotent ones they haven't managed or even tried to do such a thing. They simply showed that Liquid crystals coated with Matragel (collagen more or less) were capable of sustaining stem cell growth. Not entirely surprising since Matragel is the only substrate capable of sustaining hESCs (other than mouse embryonic fibroblasts). It has potential but there is a good reason this paper is in Advanced Fu
    • 1) Yes
      2) Actually, it has enormous possiblities. Look beyond the fact that HESC are involved.

      Lets take a look at what Palacek is trying to do.

      He was studying how differentiation is triggered by environment. In this case, consider a bone fracture. In a bone fracture, cells start differentiating into cartilage and bone, a process triggered by the reduction in stess on the cell membranes (actually, it is caused by a release of hyaluronic acid isomerase, but stress is the macro cause)

      THAT, has implications way
  • ...they'll be transplanting spare displays from used cell phones into people to save their lives.

    Do you know anybody who's always talking on their cell phone? Have you heard the joke that goes something like, "Did you hear Joe is going in for surgery next week? He's going in to have his cell phone disconnected from his ear." Yeah. That will become reality sooner than you think!

  • George Bush introduces legislation banning LCD Monitors to prevent the creation of animal computer hybrids
  • Speaking as a Type I Diabetic, why do we care? Everyone knows that totempotent and polypotent (embryonic) stem cells are a death sentence to anyone treated with them. We know that no useful cures can come from something that kills everyone it's given to.

    Stop the PC crap and concentrate on adult stem cells for a change.

    Andy Out!
  • I for one can't wait to become one of our Transhuman cyborg overlords!
    Welcome me!

    Where do I get me some of these super stem cells to keep my body young forever, give me the ability to heal damage, a direct mind to Internet implant, and a memory augmentation and storage system, ceramid skeleton, and super-conducting nervous sytem?
    Oooh, and retractable claws!
  • There is a use for my old Gameboy? Feed in a stemcell, play a round of Tetris, and sell the Kidney I just grew on the black market. Sounds like a good replacement for the whole waking up in a hotel tub filled with ice thing.

"I've finally learned what `upward compatible' means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes." -- Dennie van Tassel

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