Infrastructure Improvements in Growing Stem Cells

Infrastructure is important in stem cell research and development. When sourcing stem cells for experiments or therapies is hard and expensive, progress will be slow. Building the tools to enable reliable, uniform, and low-cost culturing of stem cells is a necessary step, and here is one example: "Growing human embryonic stem cells in the lab is no small feat. Culturing the finicky, shape-shifting cells is labor intensive and, in some ways, more art than exact science. Now, however, a team of researchers [reports] the development of a fully defined culture system that promises a more uniform and, for cells destined for therapy, safer product. ... It's a technology that anyone can use. It's very simple. ... At present, human embryonic stem cells are cultured mostly for use in research settings. And while culture systems have improved over time, scientists still use surfaces that contain mouse cells or mouse proteins to grow batches of human cells ... The new culture system utilizes a synthetic, chemically made substrate of protein fragments, peptides, which have an affinity for binding with stem cells. ... The system, according to the new report, also works for induced pluripotent stem cells, the adult cells genetically reprogrammed to behave like embryonic stem cells. ... The disadvantages of the culture systems commonly used now are that they are undefined - you don't really know what your cells are in contact with - and there is no uniformity, which means there is batch-to-batch variability. The system we've developed is fully defined and inexpensive."



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