Parkinson’s disease is thought to be caused by the death of dopaminergic cells in the substantia nigra region of the midbrain. While treatments exist to reduce the severity of some symptoms, the disease remains poorly understood and there is a great need for improved medical treatment. Since the disease is thought to involve cell death, neuronal cells have the potential to act as Parkinson’s disease models that can be used to investigate the mechanisms of cell death and subsequently develop much needed new drugs.
Obtaining Neuronal Cells from Embryoid Bodies
Techniques for growing stem cells have evolved rapidly in recent years. In a joint study between Thermo Fisher Scientific and the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, 3D cell cultures in the form of embryoid bodies (EBs) are being grown as a source of stem cells for Parkinson’s research. In this work, EB cells are induced to differentiate into neuronal stem cells which can either be the subject of investigation themselves or can be differentiated into neurons. The research involves gene editing and cell differentiation to study disease mechanisms in these individual cells.
The Need for Consistent 3D Cell Cultures
The use of EBs in Parkinson’s research demands EBs with consistent size and shape that maintain their undifferentiated status until they are induced to differentiate into neuronal stem cells and neurons. The cell culture microplates being used are important for these requirements, since if cells adhere to the cell culture surface, they will spontaneously differentiate. As such, it’s really beneficial to use cell culture materials that do not adhere to the extracellular matrix proteins that mediate cell adhesion. The size of the plates used also need to account for the growth of uniformly sized single EBs in each well, to provide a consistent source of stem cells for this research.
The use of 3D cell cultures in disease modelling and drug screening, and as sources of stem cells is growing. Using the right plates and culture surfaces will allow you to minimize any inconsistency and maximize success in your 3D cell cultures. As a result, you can drive forward medical research and drug discovery.
Learn more about Cell Culture’s role in disease treatment: Innovations in cell culture technology drive drug discovery studies.