Tackling a pressing and controversial technical barrier in stem cell biology, scientists at the WiCell Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin-Madison have crafted a recipe that allows researchers to grow human embryonic stem cells in the absence of mouse-derived "feeder" cells, long thought to be a source of potential contamination for the therapeutically promising cells.
Caption: This image depicts a colony of human embryonic stem cells grown over a period of 10 months in the absence of mouse feeder cells. The cell nuclei are stained green; the cell surface appears in red. Photo: courtesy Ren-He Xu
The new findings, appear today (Feb. 17) in the journal Nature Methods and come on the heels of a recent University of California study showing that existing stem cell lines are already contaminated with an animal molecule. The potential threat of animal pathogens tainting human stem cell lines poses a problem for the safe clinical use of many, if not all, of the current cell lines now in use.
Until now, scientists have had to grow and sustain stem cells through the tedious daily task of generating mouse feeder cells from mouse embryos. Feeder cells, or fibroblasts, are connective tissue cells that form the matrix upon which stem cells grow.
Ren-He Xu | EurekAlert!
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