Network vs Individual Bursting Neurons

Motor Neurons and MEA
Dysregulated bursting is at the root of many motor neuron/neuromuscular junction disease. ArunA Biomedical teaming with Axion Biosystems have generated relevant bursting data from our Mouse Motor Neurons cultured on Axion-Bioystem’s Maestro MEA.

Figure: Mouse Motor Neuron Network Modulation by Bicuculline-ckeck out the entire presentation to learn more: GFP+ Motor Neurons: Development and in-vitro Functional Assessment on Microelectrode Arrays

Protocol User’s Guide for Culturing Motor Neuron on MEA(pdf – 679Kb)

Name Catalog # Type Species Applications Size Price
Motor Neurons-GFP+ Quick Start Kit mMN7205.QS Primary Neurons M Cell Assays 750,000 $349
Motor Neurons-GFP+ HTS Kit mMN7205-HTS Primary Neurons M Cell Assays 4 X 750,000 $989
GDNF (Human, Mouse) PR27022-2 Protein H; M 2 ug 10 ug $108 $205
AB2™ Basal Neural Medium AB27011.3 Cell Growth Media H; M Cell Assays 500 ml $69

We will continue providing you content we believe important. Should you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you and we stand ready to serve you and your team.

Pete Shuster-CEO and Owner, Neuromics, 612-801-1007,

Harnessing the Power of Neural Stem Cells

I wanted to share an important presentation by Dr. Steve Stice. He is a featured researcher in “News Behind the Neuroscience News”.

“Does amplification of neural progenitor cells derived from embryonic stem cells solve problems of cell production and FDA safety standards?”
Steven L. Stice, PhD
Professor, GRA Eminent Scholar
Director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center at University of Georgia
CSO, Aruna Biomedical Inc.

Lectin Binding Profiles among Human Embryonic Stem Cells

I have featured  numerous posting of innovations by Dr. Steve Stice and our friends at Aruna Biomedical. Here I would like to share a publication by Steve and his team featuring a new slant on isolating eSC Derived hNP Neural Progenitors. This study also includes methods for sorting hESCs, hNP cells and hMP cells.

Mahesh C. Dodla, Amber Young, Alison Venable, Kowser Hasneen1, Raj R. Rao, David W. Machacek, Steven L. Stice. Differing Lectin Binding Profiles among Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Derivatives Aid in the Isolation of Neural Progenitor Cells. PLoS ONE 6(8): e23266. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023266.

Abstract: Identification of cell lineage specific glycans can help in understanding their role in maintenance, proliferation and differentiation. Furthermore, these glycans can serve as markers for isolation of homogenous populations of cells. Using a panel of eight biotinylated lectins, the glycan expression of hESCs, hESCs-derived human neural progenitors (hNP) cells, and hESCs-derived mesenchymal progenitor (hMP) cells was investigated. Our goal was to identify glycans that are unique for hNP cells and use the corresponding lectins for cell isolation. Flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry were used to determine expression and localization of glycans, respectively, in each cell type. These results show that the glycan expression changes upon differentiation of hESCs and is different for neural and mesenchymal lineage. For example, binding of PHA-L lectin is low in hESCs (14±4.4%) but significantly higher in differentiated hNP cells (99±0.4%) and hMP cells (90±3%). Three lectins: VVA, DBA and LTL have low binding in hESCs and hMP cells, but significantly higher binding in hNP cells. Finally, VVA lectin binding was used to isolate hNP cells from a mixed population of hESCs, hNP cells and hMP cells. This is the first report that compares glycan expression across these human stem cell lineages and identifies significant differences. Also, this is the first study that uses VVA lectin for isolation for human neural progenitor cells.


Figure 1. Defining the stem cell phenotype using immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry.Phase contrast image of hESCs (A), hNPs (B), and hMPs (C). hESCs express pluripotency markers: Oct 4 (D,GG, JJ), SSEA-4 (G), and Sox 2 (J,GG); lack expression of Nestin (M, JJ), CD 166 (P,DD), CD73 (DD), and CD105 (AA). hNPs have low expression of pluripotency markers: Oct 4 (E,KK), SSEA-4 (H); and mesenchymal markers CD 166 (Q,EE), CD73 (EE), and CD105 (BB). hNPs express neural markers: Sox 2 (J,HH) and Nestin (N,HH,KK). hMPs lack expression of pluripotency markers: Oct 4 (F,LL), SSEA-4 (I), and Sox 2 (L,II); however, hMPs express Nestin (O,II,LL), CD 166 (R,FF), CD73 (FF), CD90 (CC) and CD105 (CC). All the cells have been stained with the nuclear marker DAPI (blue) in panels D- P. Scale bar: 10 µm. In the dot plots, red dots indicate isotype control or secondary antibody only; black dots indicate the antigen staining. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0023266.g001

 By comparing hESCs, hNP cells and hMP cells, we have identified glycan structures that are unique to hNP cells: GalNac end groups (VVA), α-linked N-acetylgalactosamine (DBA), and fucose moieties α-linked to GlcNAc (LTL). Future studies help in identifying the roles of these glycans in cell maintenance, proliferation and differentiation fate.

I will keep you posted on these future Studies.

More on STEMEZ hN2 Primary Human Neurons

My company’s STEMEZTM hN2 Primary Human Neuron Discovery Kits have been a frequent topic on “News Behind the Neuroscience News”. My friends at Aruna Biomedical continue to broaden the capabilities of these Kits based on customer feedback.

I am seeing increasing demand for these cells as these capabilities are published. Here’s the latest:

A. Young, D.W. Machacek, S.K. Dhara, P.R. MacLeish, M. Benveniste, M.C. Dodla, C.D. Sturkie and S.L. Stice. Ion channels and ionotrophic receptors in a human embryonic stem cell derived neural progenitors. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2011.04.039. Markers used:…mouse nonoclonal anti nestin (neuromics), mouse monoclonal anti tuj-1 (neuromics)…

Abstract: Human neural progenitor cells differentiated from human embryonic stem cells offer a potential cell source for studying neurodegenerative diseases and for drug screening assays. Previously, we demonstrated that human neural progenitors could be maintained in a proliferative state with the addition of leukemia inhibitory factor and basic fibroblast growth factor. Here we demonstrate that 96 h after removal of basic fibroblast growth factor the neural progenitor cell culture was significantly altered and cell replication halted. Fourteen days after the removal of basic fibroblast growth factor, most cells expressed microtubule-associated protein 2 and TUJ1, markers characterizing a post-mitotic neuronal phenotype as well as neural developmental markers Cdh2 and Gbx2. Real-time PCR was performed to determine the ionotrophic receptor subunit expression profile. Differentiated neural progenitors express subunits of glutamatergic, GABAergic, nicotinic, purinergic and transient receptor potential receptors. In addition, sodium and calcium channel subunits were also expressed. Functionally, virtually all the hNP cells tested under whole-cell voltage clamp exhibited delayed rectifier potassium channel currents and some differentiated cells exhibited tetrodotoxin-sensitive, voltage-dependent sodium channel current. Action potentials could also be elicited by current injection under whole-cell current clamp in a minority of cells. These results indicate that removing basic fibroblast growth factor from the neural progenitor cell cultures leads to a post-mitotic state, and has the capability to produce excitable cells that can generate action potentials, a landmark characteristic of a neuronal phenotype. This is the first report of an efficient and simple means of generating human neuronal cells for ionotrophic receptor assays and ultimately for electrically active human neural cell assays for drug discovery.

STEMEZ hN2 Cells-Electrophysiology Data

STEMEZ hN2 Cells-Electrophysiology Data






I will continue to post updates here.

Ion Channels and Neuromics’ STEMEZ Cells

In my conversation with neuro-drug discover researchers, I am frequently being asked about the potential of using our STEMEZ(TM) hNP1 Human Neural Progenitors Expansion Kits for studying ion channels. How effective are these cells as a source for studying neurodegenerative diseases and for drug screening assays?  There is good news from Dr. Steve Stice and my friends from ArunA and UGA.

When differentiated, these  neural progenitors express subunits of glutamatergic,  GABAergic, nicotinic, purinergic and transient receptor potential receptors. In addition, sodium  and calcium channel subunits were also expressed. Functionally, virtually all the NP cells exhibited delayed rectifier potassium channel currents and some differentiated cells exhibited  tetrodotoxin sensitive, voltage-dependent sodium channel current under whole-cell voltage clamp and action potentials could be elicited by current injection under whole-cell current clamp.  These results indicate that removing basic fibroblast growth factor from the neural progenitor cell cultures leads to a post-mitotic state, and also results in the capability to produce excitable cells that can generate action potentials. This is the first data demonstrating capabilitiesof these cells for ionotrophic receptor assays and ultimately for electrically active human neural cell assays for drug discovery.

Images: Glutamate receptor expression in hNP cells and differentiated hNP cells The expression of ionotropic glutamate receptors might also be an indicator of neuronal maturation. These receptors are composed of three distinct families: NMDA, kainate and AMPA receptors. The hNP cells and differentiated hNP cells cultured in the absence of bFGF for 2 weeks were analyzed for mRNA expression of subunits of each glutamate receptor subtype relative to hESCs. Significant increases (p<0.05) in Grin2b were seen in hNP cells (20 fold) and differentiated hNP cells (25 fold) relative to hESCs (Figure 3A). Additionally, Grin1 and Grin2d were significantly increased (p<0.05) only in differentiated hNP cells relative to hESCs, but not in undifferentiated hNP cells (Figure 3A). Of the kainate receptors, Grik4 and Grik5 were significantly (p<0.05) increased only in undifferentiated hNP cells relative to hESCs (Figure 3B); whereas, Grik2 was significantly (p<0.05) increased only in hNP cells where bFGF had been removed (Figure 3B). AMPA receptor subunits were also examined. Gria1 and Gria4 were up regulated in hNP cells relative to hESCs (Figure 3C). Two week differentiated hNP cells showed significant (p<0.05) up regulation of Gria2 and Gira4 relative to hESCs (Figure 3C). To determine if functional glutamate channels exist in differentiated hNP cells, calcium influx in response to AMPA, kainic acid or NMDA application was measured on hNP cells, 14 days after the removal of bFGF. Figure 3G indicates that NMDA could not depolarize differentiated or undifferentiated hNP cells enough to cause significant calcium influx above background. In contrast, AMPA and kainic acid can cause calcium influx which can be potentiated by AMPA receptor specific modulator, cyclothiazide (50 μM, Figure 3G).Calcium influx was detected in the presence of cyclothiazide in calcium activity as measured (Figure 3H).


Images: Sodium channel activity in differentiated hNP cells was measured using whole cell voltage clamp. 81 total hNP cells cultured in the absence of bFGF from 4 to 27 days were analyzed. Of these, 34 exhibited no fast inward currents in response to a step depolarization indicating the 348 absence of functional voltage gated sodium channels (Figure 4G). The remaining cells yielded between 0.04 – 1.5 nA of inward current in response to the step depolarization (Figures 4B and 4G). These currents inactivated rapidly in all cases (Figures 4B and 4C) and could be abolished with the addition of 1 μM TTX (n = 3 cells; Figure 4C). Voltage-dependent steady state inactivation (n = 11 cells; Figure 4D) and recovery from fast inactivation (n = 5 cells; Figure 4E) were also observed on several positive cells. A subset of these cells was subjected to current clamp and action potentials were elicited by current injection (n = 8 cells, Figure 4F). In support of this, increasing concentrations of a sodium channel activator veratridine in a FLIPR assay on differentiated hNP cells show an increasing calcium response (Figure 4H). This probably resulted from voltage-gated sodium channel depolarization of cells that subsequently allowed calcium influx through calcium channels. These data indicate that differentiation of hNP cells by removal of bFGF can lead to a neuronal cell that can generate action potentials and depolarize the cell. The 58% hit rate for voltage-gated sodium channel function (Figure 4G), does not reflect the true proportion of sodium channel positive cells in our differentiated hNP cells, but rather our ability to morphologically distinguish these cells from negative cells by eye. An example of the morphology of a sodium channel positive cell is shown in Figure 4A. The positive cells were phase bright with a few long processes.

STEMEZ hN2 Human Neurons Data

I have been working with Dr. Steve Stice and Aruna Biomedical to deliver human stem and neural cells to identified niche research areas related to drug discovery.  Neuromics rolled out STEMEZTM hN2 Human Neurons Discovery Kits several months ago. Applications for these include: cellular model studies, high content screening, developmental studies, RNAi studies and genetic manipulation.

Drilling down further, I am pleased to present Electro-physiology and related data generated by Aruna and collaborators: hN2 Cells-Electro Phys Data Supplement


hN2-Whole Cell Voltage Clamp

hN2-Whole Cell Voltage Clamp

Figure. hN2 cells can produce inward currents that generate action potentials. (A) Isolated hN2 with significant neurite growth 1 week  after plating . This cell was subjected to whole cell voltage clamp utilizing a potassium gluconate based intracellular solution. (B) Voltage gated inward and outward currents were elicited from this cell with depolarizing voltage steps. (C) Inward currents from another cell (potassium gluconate intracellular) were abolished by local application of 1 µM tetrodotoxin (red trace) while outward currents remained. Inward current recovered as TTX washed out of the region (green trace). (D) A different cell which exhibited voltage activated inward currents that inactivated in response to a 50 ms prepulse at different membrane potentials. The experiment was done 27 days after the removal of bFGF. A cesium gluconate based intracellular solution was used for this experiment to block outward potassium currents. The membrane potential for half maximal inactivation by standard Boltzman fitting (red line) was -40.1 mV with a slope of 4.7. (E) Recovery from fast inactivation utilizing a paired pulse protocol in the same cell as C. The single exponential time constant for recovery of inactivation was 1.7 ms (red line). (F) A different cell which elicited an overshooting action potential upon current injection under whole cell current clamp utilizing a potassium gluconate based intracellular solution. Inset: Response of the same cell under voltage clamp to a change in membrane potential from -80 mV to -10 mV elicited a peak current of 457 pA. Scale bars for inset: 5 ms, 0.2 nA.

Isolating and Maintaining Embryonic Stem Cells

I have featured Steve Stice and his team at ArunA Biomedical and UGA. They are pioneers in developing Embryonic Stem Cell Based Cultures and Assays for Drug Discovery and Basic Research. Given the importance of their work, I am commited to keeping my finger on the pulse of their advances and discoveries.

Here they isolate, and maintain in culture, neural progenitors demonstrating properties of these neural epithelial cells from WA09 human embryonic stem cells (hESCs):


Steve Stice-The Professor Entrepreneur

Dr Steve Stice and Human Stem Cells

I am pleased and honored for the privilege of profiling Dr. Steve Stice.  He has a history of working in areas that are Biotechnology Headliners…from cloning to stem cells. Here I will be focusing on his current work with Human Stem Cells and Neural Progenitors  at ArunA Biomedical and The University of Georgia. As with all the News Behind the Neuroscience News, I will highlight how it could impact Neuroscience Research and Drug Discovery.

The Back Story

Where it Starts

Steve embodies a rare blend of entrepreneurship and scientific curiosity. He has been referred to in the press as “part professor; part entrepreneur”. This uniquely positions Steve to take his inventions from the lab directly to the marketplace by forming Biotechnology Companies. The DNA for ArunA comes from several of his earlier start-ups: Advanced Cell Technology and Cytogenesis (now part of BresaGen).

About Dr. Steve Stice

Dr. Steve Stice is CSO of Aruna Biomedical Inc and a Professor and Director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center and has a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar endowed chair.


Prior to joining the University of Georgia, Dr. Stice was a cofounder and Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, a stem cell company.  Throughout his career he has published and lectured internationally on the topics of cloning and stem cells. 


In 2001, three of the human embryonic stem cell lines that Dr Stice’s lab derived were approved for federal funding by President Bush. In 2006, he was appointed by Gov. Perdue to the Post Natal Cord Blood Commission for the state of Georgia.


Dr. Stice founded Aruna Biomedical, Inc., and in cooperation with Millipore Inc. was first group to market a product derived from human embryonic stem cells (2007). The product is a neural stem cell used for research on neurological diseases and disorders, ranging from Parkinson’s disease to depression.


Contact Information:

As co-founder and CSO of Advanced Cell Technology, he has helped commercialize discovery platforms that could enable the application of stem cell technologies to the field of regenerative medicine to bring effective therapies to patients suffering from degenerative diseases like age-related macular degeneration. The company recently passed the milestone of  successfully. restoring visual function in rats through the implantation of RPE cells derived from human embryonic stem cells and in early 2008, completed pre-IND meetings with the FDA. Yes, Human Stem Cell based therapies have the potential to make the blind  see.

This bring us to ArunA. I am excited about their current and future products because their is a pent up need for them by the Neuroscience Research community which includes many of Neuromics’ Customers.

The ArunA Biomedical Story
Steve started ArunA in 2003. It actually sprung from a frustrating aspect of using Stem Cells for research. They are infinitely useful but hard to grow in cultures and differentiate into the research required cell types. Steve became acutely aware of this from his work starting in 2001 including a 5 day course he taught at NIH. Steve understood that most researchers do not want to spend the time and related frustrations associated with  this exercise. It is kind of like building a computer so you could enjoy the benefits of the web. In other words, Neuroscientists could care less about undifferentiated stem cells. At the very least, they want pure and healthy Neural Progenitors. These can then be expanded and differentiated into specific neurons. For example an ALS Researcher would be interested in making Motor Neurons; a Parkinson’s Researcher, Dopamanergic Neurons and a Pain Researcher, GABAmanergic. Nirvana for these researchers would be having pure cultures of these Neuron types at their fingertips.

Current Products

There is good news. Neuroscientists can now easily and inexpensively get human neural progenitor cells for Drug Discovery, Toxicity and Basic Research.

ENStem-A ™, Neural Progenitor Expansion Kit
hN2™, ArunA Human Neural Cell Kit 

So what was once difficult and frustrating, is now easy and convenient. Buy the kits and here’s an example of what you get.

What is Next

Knowing the needs and wants of the marketplace, ArunA’s products and capabilities excite me. Any tools that have they capabilities to bring researchers a steps closer to discovering cures for insidious Neuro-diseases need to be embraced. All of us have or will be touched by these diseases.

In my conversations with Steve, I am impressed with his clear understanding of how to evolve ArunA’s product to increase their value proposition. Available soon could be cultures developed to fit the niche needs of specific researrch areas like Parkinson’s, Pain’s and Alzheimer’s. I plan on communicating these evolutions here and at my company’s website @

On Deck-Dr. Steve Stice

We read about the promise of stem cells in the news every day. They could prove to be ”magic bullets” for curing diseases like Alzheimer’s. Parkinson’s, MS and others. Stem Cell Research is also surrounded with controversy as currently cells are often harvested from human embryos and fetuses.I believe top researchers will prove to be the voice of reason in the human stem cell debate as they are the ones best positioned to know the risks, limitations and potential.  

For our August Profile, I am honored to be featuring Dr. Steve Stice. I have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Stice both in his role as Professor and Director of the Regenerative Bioscience Center and Research Alliance Eminent Scholar endowed Chair at the University of Georgia and as Founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Aruna Biomedical.

He has over 16 years of research and development experience in biotechnology and is a co-founder of five biotechnology companies.  He was named one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine.  He produced the first cloned rabbit in 1987 and the first cloned transgenic calves in 1998 (George and Charlie).  In 1997 his group produced the first genetically modified embryonic stem cell derived pigs and cattle.  This research led to publications in Science and Nature journals, national news coverage (CBS, NBC, ABC and CNN) and the first US patents on cloning animals and cattle embryonic stem cells.  In 2001, Dr. Stice announced the first cloned animal (calf) from an animal that was dead for 48 hours.  In 2005, his stem cell group published the first work on deriving motor neurons from stem cells.  Motor neurons are damaged lost during the progression of several diseases such as ALS and spinal muscular atrophy.  Throughout his career he has published and lectured on cloning and stem cell technologies.  Prior to joining the University of Georgia, Dr. Stice was a co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, a company developing cloning and stem cell technology.

Here is What is  Currently Hot in the Stice Lab:
New neural stem cells technology developed in my lab was transferred to a commercial entity, Aruna biomedical. This is the first commercialized product derived from human embryonic stem cell using federally approved stem cell lines.

  • We have produced neurons that have neural functions
  • We are working with the Navy to use our neural cells as biosensors for environmental toxins 
  • We have vascular stem cells that have characteristics that may make them suitable for  transplantation
  • We collaborate with a new company call Aruna BioMedical  that will stem cells for neural research and drug discovery
  • Developed a method to test new compounds for Alzheimer’s disease using our neural stem cell
  • We are one of five NIH stem cell training centers and have taught Scientists from Georgia to Bombay India new stem cell techniques
  • In Georgia, we produced over 50 cloned calves and 100 cloned pigs.
  • We were also the first to produce a clone from an animal that had been dead for 48 hours. This opens new opportunities in agriculture and preserving endangered species.