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Human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) cultured, say scientists

7 June 2010
Appeared in BioNews 561

Researchers have developed a method of creating large amounts of human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) using a new technique, which could help to treat a variety of diseases, according to new research published in the journal Nature Biology.

The new method has been created by using chemically controlled conditions: the cells are cultured on a matrix of a single human protein, laminin-511. Laminin-511 is part of our connective tissue and acts in the body as a matrix to which cells can attach. Previously, human ES cells could only be cultivated using other cells or animal substances.

This development will make way for harvesting large quantities of stem cells. This is significant as stem cells are used to treat a variety of diseases because they can continuously divide and replace other damaged cells. ES cells go further, they have the capability to develop into a variety of different cells in the body.

'Now, for the first time, we can produce large quantities of human ES cells in an environment that is completely chemically defined,' said lead researcher Professor Karl Tryggvason, from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet.

'This opens up new opportunities for developing different types of cell which can then be tested for the treatment of disease', he added.

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