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Raman Analysis of Stem Cells

(Developmental Collaborator-Driven Research Project)

LLNL: J Chan;

UC Davis: D Lieu, T Huser, R Li

Finding new ways to identify stem cells is one of the big challenges in the field of regenerative medicine. Some stem cells can be identified using unique surface receptors that can bind fluorescent labeled antibodies but these labels can modify the SC behavior. Some types of SC don’t have unique surface markers. The discovery of an alternate method of SC identification using Raman spectroscopy is expected to be an important breakthrough.  We have been studying Raman spectroscopy as a potential tool for the non-invasive identification and biochemical characterization of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and their derived cells. CBST researchers are pioneering the use of laser trap Raman spectroscopy to identify, isolate, sort, purify, and remove potentially tumorigenic undifferentiated hESCs for both research and clinical applications. 

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can provide an unlimited source of highly specialized, non-regenerative cells such as cardiomyocytes (CMs) for future cell-based heart therapies. The project goals of this project are to 1) apply Raman spectroscopy to characterize hESCs, hESC-derived, and matured cells, 2) identify optical Raman markers of these cells and 3) determine the sensitivity of these markers for accurate cell classification.

This past year we have shown using Raman laser-trap spectroscopy analyzed by principal component analysis (PCA) with linear discriminant analysis (LDA) that stem cells and mature fetal heart cells can be distinguished. hESC-derived cardiomyocytes fall between the two groups indicating that Raman molecular fingerprints have the potential to (1) identify stem cells from differentiated cells and (2) assess the degree of maturation of hESC-derived cells as they differentiate into their specific lineages