The ambition in many quarters to scale up the production of human embryonic stem cells and move towards clinical trials requires that different laboratories are able to produce to a standard quality of cells. Developing common standards in stem cell production is not straightforward as so much is still unknown in this new science. Professor Andrew Webster and Dr Lena Eriksson of York University interviewed and observed a range of scientists and technicians working in stem cell laboratories in the UK, USA and Sweden.
Accurately describing human embryonic stem cell lines is one way to begin setting standards. A stem cell line is a family of constantly-dividing cells, the product of a single parent group of stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are unique in that they have yet to 'decide' which developmental path to choose: they have the ability to turn into almost all human cell types. However each human embryonic stem cell holds the genetic signature of the donor which differs between donors just as people themselves differ. Further the state of a stem cell is by its very nature temporary as it is defined by its ability to develop into many different cell types.
Some scientists argued that as the stem cell cannot be standardised, the process and materials used should be standardised. Currently differences in laboratory practices are thought to result in differences in stem cell lines reflecting the way they are treated rather than an innate quality of the lines themselves. The skills of the laboratory technician also play a key role. But pinpointing all the factors that contribute to producing successful stem cell lines remains elusive. “Scientists often explain that their laboratory produces successful human embryonic stem cell lines because their laboratory uses the factor X when they grow them or its lab technicians have green fingers,” says Dr Lena Eriksson of the research team.
Some researchers prefer not to develop standards as these will constrain the science and may close off promising areas of research. “Others argue that it is simply futile,” explains Lena Eriksson. “Can you standardise how all children sleep by giving them the same bed, sheet and blanket? Of course not. So why bother standardising the materials of stem cell production when other differences such as donor history and derivation methods are so complex, manifold and, to date, largely unknown?”
However, the research shows most stem cell scientists are keen to collaborate on the technical side as they feel this is necessary in order to move the field as a whole forward. The research team followed one particularly successful effort – the International Stem Cell Initiative – that adopted a multi-sited experimental approach in which a large number of stem cell lines were analysed and compared.
Because of the imprecise nature of the manual laboratory work, standardisation opens a potential market for automation technologies to be introduced into human embryonic stem cell laboratories. Yet the research shows this also brings tensions. By attracting businesses keen to become suppliers of laboratory material for this emerging market, the expense of such equipment as well as the skills and staff needed to operate it may exclude small laboratories. Even those that can afford to meet the costs have reservations about the robustness of stem cells to withstand the automation process. The relationship between standards, automation and stem cell quality will be key to the future scale-up of the field and so its clinical application.
Danielle Moore | alfa
Researchers find new mutation in the leptin gene
24.06.2019 | Texas Biomedical Research Institute
Straight to the heart
24.06.2019 | Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin in der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft
From June 25th to 27th 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology IDMT in Ilmenau (Germany) will be presenting a new solution for acoustic quality inspection allowing contact-free, non-destructive testing of manufactured parts and components. The method which has reached Technology Readiness Level 6 already, is currently being successfully tested in practical use together with a number of industrial partners.
Reducing machine downtime, manufacturing defects, and excessive scrap
The quality of additively manufactured components depends not only on the manufacturing process, but also on the inline process control. The process control ensures a reliable coating process because it detects deviations from the target geometry immediately. At LASER World of PHOTONICS 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be demonstrating how well bi-directional sensor technology can already be used for Laser Material Deposition (LMD) in combination with commercial optics at booth A2.431.
Fraunhofer ILT has been developing optical sensor technology specifically for production measurement technology for around 10 years. In particular, its »bd-1«...
The well-known representation of chemical elements is just one example of how objects can be arranged and classified
The periodic table of elements that most chemistry books depict is only one special case. This tabular overview of the chemical elements, which goes back to...
Light can be used not only to measure materials’ properties, but also to change them. Especially interesting are those cases in which the function of a material can be modified, such as its ability to conduct electricity or to store information in its magnetic state. A team led by Andrea Cavalleri from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg used terahertz frequency light pulses to transform a non-ferroelectric material into a ferroelectric one.
Ferroelectricity is a state in which the constituent lattice “looks” in one specific direction, forming a macroscopic electrical polarisation. The ability to...
Researchers at TU Graz calculate the most accurate gravity field determination of the Earth using 1.16 billion satellite measurements. This yields valuable knowledge for climate research.
The Earth’s gravity fluctuates from place to place. Geodesists use this phenomenon to observe geodynamic and climatological processes. Using...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Event News
24.06.2019 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
24.06.2019 | Life Sciences