From Stem Cells to Adipose

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Fangheng Zhou, Benjamin Larson, Héloïse Ragelle, Miralem Prijic, Robert Langer, Daniel Anderson

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Aplastic anemia is a disease in which the body’s bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells, and the blood stem cells that reside the bone marrow are mostly gone and replaced by fat. Currently, the diagnosis for this disease can only be confirmed on bone marrow examination, which is done by performing aspiration (fast, but does not represent all cells) or trephine biopsy (represents all cells, but very slow processing) or both. These procedures are also incredibly painful.  

In our research, we developed an artificial bone microenvironment which allows us to culture stem cells or any other types of cells and visualize how these cells react to a given stimuli, without using any live human or animal subjects. This image was one of the images we took to confirm how many of the stem cells that we cultured had turned into adipose cells in our artificial bone environment with certain drugs added.