Wouldn’t it be great to find out how stem cells are differentiating, without having to disrupt them? Well, with Raman micro-spectroscopy (RMS), researchers can. That’s the upshot of a mini-review recently published in EPJ Techniques & Instrumentation. As Ioan Notingher et al. explain in their abstract, differentiated cells produce specific biochemicals detectable with Raman micro-spectroscopy. Their article focuses specifically on time- and spatially-resolved Raman spectral measurements that allow repeated investigation of live stem cells in-vitro, giving researchers a real picture of how the cell lines differentiate.
Figure 6 for example [include the figure here], demonstrates the use of RMS to study human embryonic stem cells as they’re encouraged to differentiate into cardiomyocites (cardiac muscle tissue). Researchers placed the stem cells in a cardiac medium, and used RMS to measure the development of specific cardiac markers.
They did similar studies, as well, tracking differentiation into neurocytes. Their conclusion, as they write, is:
By integrating the Raman micro-spectrometer with an environmental enclosure, RMS can be used for non-invasive monitoring time-dependent molecular changes in live cells and can provide on-line information regarding the cells and their phenotypic characteristics. RMS may be a useful technique for monitoring bioprocesses and help the refinement and standardisation of differentiation protocols to induce the efficient differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. Such non-invasive techniques are needed to help overcoming the current bottlenecks in the manufacturing and quality assessment of stem cell populations, which are key factors for the future advancement and widespread clinical use of regenerative medicine therapies. In addition, information regarding molecular changes during differentiation can advance the understanding of stem cell differentiation and the development of in vitro models for embryo development.
You’ll find the entire review from EPJ Techniques & Instrumentation here.