Stem Cell Research - Regenerative Medicine
The researchers of FORTH/BRI have decided to extend their research potential to stem cell research. Indeed, regenerative medicine is an emerging interdisciplinary field of research and clinical applications, focused on the repair, replacement, or regeneration of cells, tissues, or organs to restore impaired function resulting from any cause, including congenital defects, disease, and trauma. It uses a combination of several technological approaches that shift it beyond traditional transplantation and replacement therapies. These approaches may include, but are not limited to, the use of stem cells, soluble molecules as activators or inhibitors of physiological pathways, tissue engineering and advanced cell therapy.
The associated researcher (Ioannidis JP) of Biomedical Research Institute (FORTH/BRI), together with other researchers, has recently reviewed the field of genome-wide screening in Nat Rev Genet. 2009, 10: 318-29. Indeed, studies using genome-wide platforms have yielded an unprecedented number of promising signals of association between genomic variants and human traits. The Review addressed the steps required to validate, augment and refine such signals to identify underlying causal variants for well-defined phenotypes. These steps include: large-scale exact replication across both similar and diverse populations; fine mapping and resequencing; determination of the most informative markers and multiple independent informative loci; incorporation of functional information; and improved phenotype mapping of the implicated genetic effects. Even in cases for which replication proves that an effect exists, confident localization of the causal variant often remains elusive.
Upgrading the Microscopy Unit of FORTH/BRI
Most research projects in the Biomedical Research Institute require the work with living cells and the microscopic analysis of cells to investigate processes such as the transport of proteins and nucleic acids, interaction of cellular components, and changes of cellular substructures during differentiation. FORTH/BRI has recently purchased two new instruments to upgrade the Institute’s microscopy infrastructure to super-resolution light microscopy. Thus, with the delivery of the microscopes by fall 2010, the existing microscopy unit will be complemented by a state-of-the-art STED microscope that yields resolution of living specimens down to 70nm, and a TIRF microscope with unsurpassed resolution for the investigation of membrane-associated events e.g. in signalling. The new super-resolution microscopes provide an approximately threefold increase in resolution in comparison to the best physically possible confocal laser scanning microscopes, and will strongly enhance the research potential of FORTH/BRI in cell biology.