Scientific breakthrough to pave the way for human stem cell factories

September 1, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Large scale, cost-effective stem cell factories able to keep up with demand for new therapies to treat a range of human illnesses are a step closer to reality, thanks to a scientific breakthrough involving researchers at The University of Nottingham.

Currently, are cultured using animal derived products that encourage the cells to reproduce without losing their — their ability to be turned into any type of adult stem cell, whether it be a cardio myocyte to be used in treating heart attack victims or a bone cell for growing new bone to graft to a patient’s own.

However, the potential for cross-species contamination and the difficulty in reproducing these cells in large numbers means that while they are useful as a research tool, a synthetic alternative would be essential for the treatment of patients.

In a paper published in the September edition of , a team of Nottingham scientists led by Professor Morgan Alexander in the University’s School of Pharmacy, reveal they have discovered some man-made acrylate polymers which allow stem cells to reproduce while maintaining their pluripotency.

Professor Alexander said: “This is an important breakthrough which could have significant implications for a wide range of stem cell therapies, including cancer, heart failure, muscle damage and a number of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s.

“One of these new manmade materials may translate into an automated method of growing which will be able to keep up with demand from emerging therapies that will require cells on an industrial scale, while being both cost-effective and safer for patients.”

The research, a collaboration with colleagues Bob Langer, Dan Anderson, Rudolf Jaenisch and Krystyn Van Vliet at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), involved using polymer microarrays — standard scientific glass slides with 1,700 polymer spots on the surface. Stem cells tagged with a fluorescent agent which allow them to be seen were placed onto the polymer spots. The scientists were then able to watch the stem cells and observe which polymers were most successful at promoting the most growth while also maintaining the pluripotency of the stem cells. Critically, in this paper the influence of the material properties was investigated though analysis of the polymer micro array spots.

Explore further: Embryonic stem cells can kill cancer cells

More information: The paper ‘Combinatorial development of biomaterials for clonal growth of human pluripotent stem cells’ will appear in the September edition of Nature Materials and can be viewed online at www.nature.com/nmat/journal/v9/n9/abs/nmat2812.html

Related Stories

Adult stem cells lack key pluripotency regulator

October 10, 2007

The protein Oct4 plays a major role in embryonic stem cells, acting as a master regulator of the genes that keep the cells in an undifferentiated state. Unsurprisingly, researchers studying adult stem cells have long suspected ...

Heart derived stem cells develop into heart muscle

April 23, 2008

Dutch researchers at University Medical Center Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute have succeeded in growing large numbers of stem cells from adult human hearts into new heart muscle cells. A breakthrough in stem cell research. ...

Scientists isolate cancer stem cells

September 11, 2008

After years of working toward this goal, scientists at the OU Cancer Institute have found a way to isolate cancer stem cells in tumors so they can target the cells and kill them, keeping cancer from returning.

Researchers develop a better way to grow stem cells

August 22, 2010

Human pluripotent stem cells, which can become any other kind of body cell, hold great potential to treat a wide range of ailments, including Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. However, scientists ...

Recommended for you

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

New polymer able to store energy at higher temperatures

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University has created a new polymer that is able to store energy at higher temperatures than conventional polymers without breaking down. In their paper published ...

How to look for a few good catalysts

July 30, 2015

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface.

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

July 29, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a yarn from ordinary gelatine that has good qualities similar to those of merino wool fibers. Now they are working on making the yarn even more water resistant.

3 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Crucialitis
4.7 / 5 (3) Sep 02, 2010
Yay! Fresh organs!
And potentially farms of cruelty-free meat. Probably grown to be oh so deliciously tender. ::drools::
Kmenex
3 / 5 (2) Sep 02, 2010
There will be complications..

message me for more info.
rgwalther
5 / 5 (1) Sep 02, 2010
There will be complications..

message me for more info.

FYI Use Ovaltine decoder ring on the QT ASAP. Pass it on, but don't tell anyone.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.