BioMediTech Research Groups

Neuro Group

Group Leader: Adjunct Professor Susanna Narkilahti

susanna.narkilahti(at)uta.fi

About Us

The BioMediTech Neuro Group focuses on producing both neuronal and glial cells from human pluripotent stem cells. The aim is to characterize the produced cells by their gene and protein expression and specifically study the cells’ maturation and electrophysiological functionality both in single cell and network levels. Co-culture systems containing several cell types in 2- or 3D utilizing biomaterials are also established. The group focuses on applications in e.g. in vitro modeling of biological processes and neurological diseases, graft development, and neurotoxicity screening platforms.

Research interests and expertise

Research interests:

  • Stem cell differentiation and characterization
  • In vitro neuronal network functions
  • Disease modeling in vitro; epilepsy, myelination, reactive astrocytes
  • Molecular mechanisms of stem cell differentiation
  • Neural tissue engineering:
    • Biomaterials in tissue engineering for in vitro and in vivo purposes
    • Cell orientation, functionalization
    • From 2D to 3D

Expertise:

  • Basic biology of human pluripotent stem cells derived neural cells
  • Biomaterials research in neural tissue engineering applications
  • Cell differentiation: neuronal, glial
  • Translational studies
  • In vitro modelling: biology and engineering aspects

Achievements

  • Production of neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes from hPSCs, creation of functional neuronal networks and utilizing them for disease modeling in vitro.
  • Cell transplantation studies in stroke and spinal cord injury models.
  • 2D and 3d modeling with integrated technologies.
  • Several patent applications, commercialization project, and product development.
  • Multiple big international and national grants; Centre of Excellence (Academy of Finland, 2018-2025)

Infrastructure

  • Human pluripotent stem cells (HPSC) and their neural derivates
  • Patient specific cells
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Immunocytochemistry, Western blot, Fluorescence microscopy, confocal imaging
  • Electrophysiology: patch clamp, calcium imaging, microelectrode arrays
  • Integrated electrodes, sensors, microfluidics platforms

Major Publications

  1. Turunen S, Joki T, Hiltunen M, Ihalainen T, Narkilahti S*, Kellomäki M*. Direct Laser Writing of Tubular Microtowers for 3D Culture of Human Pluripotent Stem-Cell Derived Neuronal Cells. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2017 Aug 9;9(31):25717-25730.
  2. Hyysalo A, Ristola M, Joki T, Narkilahti S. Aligned Poly(ε-caprolactone) Nanofibers Guide the Orientation and Migration of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neurons, Astrocytes, and Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells In Vitro. Macromol Biosci. 2017 Jul;17(7).
  3. Koivisto J, Joki T, Parraga J, Pääkkönen R, Ylä-Outinen L, Salonen L, Jonkkari I, Peltola M, Ihalainen T, Narkilahti S, Kellomäki M. Bioamine-crosslinked gellan gum hydrogel for neural tissue engineering. Biomed Mater. 2017 Mar 24;12(2):025014
  4. Kreutzer J, Ylä-Outinen L, Mäki A-J, Ristola M, Narkilahti S, Kallio P. Cell culture chamber with gas supply for prolonged recording of human neuronal cells on microelectrode array. J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Mar 15;280:27-35.
  5. Heikkilä T, Ylä-Outinen L, Tanskanen J, Lappalainen R, Skottman H, Suuronen R, Hyttinen J, Narkilahti S. Human embryonic stem cell-derived neuronal cells form spontaneously active neuronal networks in vitro. Exp Neurol. 2009, 218(1):109-16.
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