Cytomics and regenerative medicine

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  • This article is accompanied by the abstracts of the 14th Leipziger Workshop and the 7th International Workshop “Slide-Based Cytometry,” April 2–4, 2009, Leipzig, Germany, www.leipziger-workshop.de.

THE key focus of regenerative medicine lies in the reconstitution of damaged or dysfunctional cells, tissues, or organs. Stimulation of the body's own regenerative potential, the connection to artificial materials and surface structures and extracorporeal tissue engineering of cells and tissues are particular challenges (1, 2). Success in the derivation of stem cell lines has opened up a new area of research in biomedicine. Human stem cells not only raise hope for cell replacement therapies but also provide a potential novel system to better understand early human normal development, model human abnormal development and disease, and perform drug screening and toxicity studies. The realization of these potentials, however, depends on expanding our knowledge about the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate self renewal and lineage specification.

Cytomics has received great attention during the last several years as it allows us to quantitatively analyze a great number of individual cells, their constituents, and their intracellular and functional interactions in cellular systems (cytomes) (3–12). Exhaustive knowledge extraction from multiparametric assays and multiple tests are the prerequisite for cytomics. This novel approach for unsupervised data analysis opens the chance to find the most important parameters which describe best the cell systems. Individual cells of an organ may be specifically equipped to perform specific tasks. Deciphering cell systems on the individual cell level may yield key information to understand function or dysfunction.

A combination of state-of-the-art approaches, including cytomics, proteomics, and genomics, will be instrumental in moving the field forward, ultimately lending invaluable knowledge to research areas in regenerative medicine. Analyzing the data about cellular structures, cytomics—the systems biological discipline for cell population analysis—provides a plethora of information and is the ideal partner of regenerative medicine. Realizing the idea “from the molecule to the patient” gives an opportunity to speed up the introduction of this knowledge and offers chemical compounds, proteins, and other biomolecules, cells and tissues as instruments and products for a wide variety of biotechnological and biomedical applications.

Cytomics combines different disciplines and will promote the development of innovative therapies and diagnostic methods. Regenerative medicine can be improved by the precision of the measurements with focus on single cell analysis. Analyzing from cell constituents to whole body imaging techniques, cytometry covers the field from molecules through subcellular components, cells, tissues, and organs to live analysis of small animals (13, 14). It harbors the promise to substantially impact on various fields of biomedicine, like regenerative and predictive medicine (3, 5). As the number of scientific data is rising exponentially, new data analysis tools and strategies for cytomics take the lead and get closer to application. Cytomics may strongly support the quantitative data selection, thus strengthening the rationale for biomedicine.

This year's 14th Leipziger Workshop highlighted applications in regenerative medicine and focused on how cytometry has contributed to the characterization of primary cells, cell cultures, and their development. The Leipziger Workshop series began in 1995. From 2003 on, it embraced cytomics as its major topic (15). After the first cytomics workshop, we started to combine cytomics with various biomedical disciplines: regenerative and predictive medicine of cardiovascular disease (2004) (5), systems biology and clinical cytomics (2005) (16), cytomics and the human cytome project (2006) (17), cytomics and translational medicine (2007) (18, 19), and cytomics and nanobioengineering (2008) (20).

Consequently, the key aspects of the 14th Leipziger Workshop from April 2–4, 2009 in Leipzig (www.leipziger-workshop.de) were cytomics and regenerative medicine. The high relevance of this combination of two biomedical disciplines with a strong standing in technology was highly appreciated. Over 90 scientists attended this year's meeting from more than 10 countries. It included keynote lectures and tutorials; there were overall 33 oral and 17 poster presentations (see abstracts). So far, this has been one of the most successful meetings in the history of the Leipziger Workshop. The number of participants has constantly increased over the last several years and will further prosper in future. The high attendance and anticipation of the workshop shows the increased demand and interest in cytomics.

This year's workshop received substantial support from the Biological and Biomedical Center of the University of Leipzig (BBZ, www.bbz.uni-leipzig.de), the newly founded Translational Center for Regenerative Medicine (TRM, www.trm.uni-leipzig.de) Leipzig and several exhibitors who were also directly involved in the teaching program (www.leipziger-workshop.de).

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