2pm - 3pm

Thursday 27 May 2021

Radicals and regeneration: A quantum approach to manipulating stem cell activity


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Recent advances in quantum biology have highlighted potential advantages for quantum approaches as therapies. Prior work from the Beane lab identified weak magnetic fields (WMFs, <1 µT) as one such approach. Exposure to 200 µT WMFs inhibited planarian reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels in vivo, blocking Hsp-70-mediated stem cell proliferation and subsequent blastema (new tissue) growth, while specifically targeting proliferating cells. However to be truly useful, therapeutic tools must be able to direct growth non-stochastically, just like current molecular-genetic methods. Current work by the Beane lab investigates the ability of WMFs to modulate stem cell activity and tissue formation, both positively and negatively, during regeneration. The data show that WMFs can manipulate stem cell activity to either promote or inhibit new growth, dependent on field strength. Furthermore, these results are consistent with theoretical models of the radical pair mechanism indicating WMFs alter radical formation through electron spin state changes. Together, the data suggest quantum approaches to controlling stem cells are an important, emerging research area.