HKBU invents nanostructure that stimulates growth of stem cells for Parkinson's disease treatment


2020-05-22 11:31:06 CISION


Researchers from Hong Kong Baptist University have invented a nanostructure that can stimulate neural stem cells to differentiate into nerve cells. They found that the transplantation of these nerve cells into rats with Parkinson's disease progressively improved their symptoms, with the new cells replacing damaged nerve cells around the transplantation site. This novel invention provides promising insights into stem cell therapies and offers hope of a new treatment for Parkinson's disease. Using stem cells to treat Parkinson's disease Parkinson's disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative diseases. It is commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 60. It arises from the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons (i.e., dopamine-producing nerve cells) in the substantia nigra, a complex and critical region of the brain. This results in impaired body movement and issues with the body's motor systems, with common symptoms including shaking and difficulty with walking. While current treatments cannot cure Parkinson's disease completely, stem cell therapy is one of the most promising potential treatments. It involves cultivating stem cells for differentiation into new and healthy cells, tissues or organs which can then be transplanted to human body to replace damaged or dead cells. Conventional stem cell culturing techniques require a large number of additional growth factors in a culture medium. The chemicals used may stimulate the growth of cancer cells and increase the risk of developing tumours after transplantation to human body. Besides, the brain‐like structures obtained from this method usually poorly resemble their counterparts in the brain. Efficiency of the conventional culturing techniques is low as the process spans more than a month, resulting in a high risk of contamination. Reducing differentiation time and cancer risk The pioneering nanomatrix, developed by a research team led by Professor Ken Yung Kin-lam, Professor of the Department of Biology and Dr Jeffery Huang Zhifeng, Associate Professor of the Department of Physics at HKBU, can induce the rapid and specific differentiation of neural stem cells into miniature substantia nigra-like structures (mini-SNLSs). These mini-SNLSs mainly comprise of dopaminergic neurons and they can replace the damaged or degenerated cells in the substantia nigra in the brain. The nanomatrix consists of a silica plate coated with a nanostructure layer. Thickness of the nanomatrix is only 550 to 730 nm, yet there are trillions of nanozigzag structures on the surface which can initiate the growth of neural stem cells into mini-SNLSs without the use of chemical growth factors. "When the neural stem cells come into physical contact with our tailor-made nanozigzag matrix in vitro, the 'physical massage' can induce the cells to differentiate rapidly into the desired dopaminergic neurons. A self-organised mini-brain-like structure can be developed in only two weeks with risk of carcinogenesis substantially reduced," said Dr Huang. Encouraging results in rat models The research team carried out further laboratory tests with mini-SNLSs in a rat model. They transplanted mini-SNLSs cultured with the nanozigzag matrix into the brains of rats with Parkinson's disease that exhibited severe motor asymmetry and rotation, which are major symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Starting from the 8th week after the transplantation, all rats showed improvements and a progressive reduction in rotation. In the 18th week, dopaminergic neurons were seen and widely spread around the primary transplantation site. In addition, no tumour‐like characteristics were detected. In contrast, rats in the control group without transplantation showed no signs of improvement. Differentiation of other functional cells "The results showed that these mini-brain-like structures exhibited excellent survival and functionality in the brains of rats and resulted in the early and progressive improvement of Parkinson's disease in rats in vivo. It lays the foundation for research into stem cell therapies that may ultimately cure Parkinson's disease," said Professor Yung. "By varying the stiffness, density and arrangement of the nanozigzags, or the shape of the matrix layer, the neural stem cells can be differentiated into different desirable functional cells. The invention has shown great potential for the treatment of other incurable diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and certain types of cancer," Professor Yung added. The research discovery was published in the academic journal Advanced Science. The research team has been granted a US patent for the nanozigzag matrix. Apart from HKBU scientists, the research team also included Dr King Lai Wai-chiu, Associate Professor of the Department of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at City University of Hong Kong, and a number of other researchers. Media enquiries: Wong Suk-ling of the Communication and Public Relations Office (3411 2119, [email protected]). SOURCE Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU)
香港浸会大学的研究人员发明了一种能刺激神经干细胞分化为神经细胞的纳米结构。他们发现,将这些神经细胞移植到患有帕金森病的老鼠体内后,症状逐渐改善,新的细胞取代了移植部位周围受损的神经细胞。这一新发明提供了干细胞疗法的有希望的见解,并提供了一个新的治疗帕金森病的希望。 利用干细胞治疗帕金森病 帕金森病是最常见的神经退行性疾病之一。一般在60岁以上的人中诊断.它产生于黑质多巴胺能神经元(如产生多巴胺的神经细胞)的变性,黑质是大脑的一个复杂而关键的区域。这导致身体运动受损和身体运动系统出现问题,常见症状包括摇晃和行走困难。 虽然目前的治疗不能完全治愈帕金森病,干细胞治疗是最有希望的治疗之一。它包括培养干细胞分化成新的和健康的细胞、组织或器官,然后移植到人体以替代受损或死亡的细胞。 传统的干细胞培养技术需要培养介质中大量的额外生长因子。使用的化学物质可以刺激癌细胞的生长,增加移植到人体后发生肿瘤的风险。此外,从这种方法获得的脑样结构通常与大脑中的同类结构很相似。传统的培养技术效率低,因为过程跨越一个多月,导致高污染风险。 减少分化时间和癌症风险 由生物系教授 Ken Yung Kin-lam 教授及香港浸会大学物理系副教授 Jeffery Huang Zhifeng 博士领导的研究小组所开发的开创性纳米基质,可诱导神经干细胞快速而特异的分化为微细的黑质结构( mini-SNLSs )。这些迷你型 SNLSs 主要由多巴胺能神经元组成,它们可以取代大脑黑质中受损或退化的细胞。 纳米基质由涂有纳米结构层的硅板组成。纳米基质的厚度只有550-730nm ,但表面上有数万亿纳米锯齿状结构,可以在不使用化学生长因子的情况下启动神经干细胞向迷你型 SNLSs 的生长。 “当神经干细胞在体外与我们特制的纳米锯齿状基质发生物理接触时,“物理按摩”可以诱导细胞迅速分化为所需的多巴胺能神经元。黄博士说:“一种自我组织的微型脑结构只能在两周内形成,致癌风险大大降低。” 在大鼠模型中鼓励结果 研究小组在大鼠模型中对迷你型 SNLSs 进行了进一步的实验室测试。他们将用纳米锯齿状基质培养的迷你型 SNLSs 移植到患有帕金森病的大鼠的大脑中,该疾病表现出严重的运动不对称和旋转,这是帕金森病的主要症状。 从移植后第8周开始,所有大鼠的旋转都有改善和逐渐减少。在18周内,多巴胺能神经元被发现并广泛分布在原始移植部位。此外,没有发现类似肿瘤的特征。对照组未进行移植的大鼠无明显改善。 其他功能细胞的分化 研究结果显示,这些小脑样结构在大鼠大脑中表现出良好的生存能力和功能,并导致大鼠体内帕金森病的早期和逐渐改善。这为研究最终治愈帕金森病的干细胞疗法奠定了基础。 “通过改变纳米锯齿的硬度、密度和排列方式,或者改变基质层的形状,神经干细胞可以分化为不同的理想功能细胞。这项发明显示了治疗其他不可治愈的疾病的巨大潜力,如老年痴呆症和某些类型的癌症。 这项研究发现发表在学术期刊《高级科学》上。该研究小组已获得美国专利的纳米锯齿形矩阵。 除了香港浸会大学的科学家外,研究小组亦包括香港城市大学机械及生物医学工程学系副教授赖惠超博士及其他多名研究人员。 传媒查询: 通讯及公共关系科黄素玲(34121219)[电邮保护])。 香港浸会大学(浸会大学)