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A Better Way to Culture Central Nervous Cells

January 30, 2013
A more dependable scaffold for neural cell culture

Rat central nervous system cells cultured in the apoE4 protein (right) fare better, with more axons and dendrites than cells cultured in laminin (left). Ironically, apoE4 is associated with the neural deficits of Alzheimer's disease in the body. Credit: Palmore lab/Brown University

Kwang-Min Kim's research on a protein associated with neuron damage in people with Alzheimer’s disease suggests a better method of growing neurons outside the body that might then be implanted to treat people with neurodegenerative diseases. Kim is a biomedical engineering graduate student and lead author the study, which will soon be published in the journal Biomaterials.

The research compared the effects of two proteins that can be used as an artificial scaffold for growing neurons (nerve cells) from the central nervous system. The study found that central nervous system neurons from rats cultured in apolipoprotein E-4 (apoE4) grew better than neurons cultured in laminin, which had been considered the gold standard for growing mammalian neurons in the lab. Read more of Kevin Stacey's article about the protein associated with nerve damage.