A number of recent papers that have used hydrogels to alter the ECM of mesenchymal stem cells to quicken their development to cells used specifically for cartilage or really any other type of cell.
Here is an example of one of the articles However, even after looking at the data sets from all of these experiments and research projects I still don't understand how this is done (i.e. what lab instruments, the actual procedure), for example of cartilage progenitors from stem cells.

I specifically want to know how this occurs in neuronal stem cells and how can we isolate those stem cells and test the effect of encapsulating them with a type of hydrogel to alter their fate? How could this be done?

  • $\begingroup$ I made some edits to your question for clarity - please check them out and alter if necessary. Thanks for your contribution! $\endgroup$ – Vance L Albaugh Jul 6 '16 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ The stem cells respond to the force they exert to the surface that they are plated on. Very soft matrices mimic the environment of the CNS resulting in neurons and hard matrices will result in cells like osteoblasts as this is more representative on the microenvironment of bone. The tensile force changes the expression patterns of the stem cells causing them to "choose" a particular fate. As for testing what is what, the way that I have seen is to do RNAseq on a sample of the cells and look at their expression patterns. Neural progenitors would be identified by expressing certain genes $\endgroup$ – AMR Jul 6 '16 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, both of you. @AMR After looking into soft and hard matrices and how they actually affect a stem cell's fate, I found that it was indeed one of the ways you may motivate a stem cell to turn into a certain cell. I believe in my research I will be specifically searching for a way to chemically alter the surroundings of the stem cell to change it. But the advice about the RNAseq is great, and I will definitely be looking into that. $\endgroup$ – Alina Davydov Jul 8 '16 at 0:03

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