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Factories may create stem cell revolution

Wednesday September 1st, 2010

British researchers say they may have opened the way for "stem cell factories" after developing a new artificial technique.

The Nottingham University researchers say their acrylate polymers can help stem cells reproduce without affecting their ability to become any adult cell - known as pluripotency.

The breakthrough means "safe" artificial materials could be used to breed stem cells rather than cultures derived from animal products.

The researchers, from the Wolfson Centre for Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering and Modelling - STEM - have published their findings in the journal Nature Materials.

They have also secured some £2.3 million in grants to develop a fully automated cell culture system.

The research, in conjunction with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, involved testing some 1,700 polymers to see which ones promoted growth.

Researcher Professor Morgan 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 man-made materials may translate into an automated method of growing pluripotent stem cells 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."

Nature Materials September 2010

Tags: Brain & Neurology | Cancer | Heart Health | UK News

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