Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists have come up with a new method for predicting the fate of stem cells.
Using advanced computer vision technology to detect subtle cell movements that are impossible to discern with the human eye, Professor Badri Roysam and his former student Andrew Cohen '89 can successfully forecast how a stem cell will split and what key characteristics the daughter cells will exhibit.
By allowing the isolation of cells with specific capabilities, this discovery could one day lead to effective methods for growing stem cells on a large scale for therapeutic use.
"If you have many cells in a culture, they all look the same. But our new method senses all sorts of tiny differences in the shapes and movements of the cells, and uses these cues to predict what kind of cells it will divide into," said Roysam, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer. "We believe this method will be beneficial for one day taking cells from a patient, and then growing large amounts of the kind of cells that patient is in need of. This could enable many new and exciting types of medical treatments using stem cells."
Results of the study, titled "Computational prediction of neural progenitor cell fates," were published recently in the journal Nature Methods.