Adult Stem Cell Therapy Blog

Technique for Multiplying Adult Stem Cells Developed

Monday, August 07, 2006 - Stem Cell Guru

When adult stem cells are extracted from bone marrow, blood or the umbilical cored the number of stem cells needs to be multiplied ("expanded") in order to produce enough for a theraputic dose.

Today's article is from which reports on researchers at the Whitehead Institute Biomedical Research who have discovered a way to multiply adult stem cell s 30-fold, an expansion that offers tremendous promise for treatments such as bone marrow transplants and perhaps even gene therapy.

Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells are generally tissue-specific, each one destined to develop into several kinds of cells. Chengcheng Zhang, a researcher in the Lodish lab, was determined to develop a way to multiply adult stem cells once they've been isolated from tissue. Achieving this goal required some intricate laboratory sleuthing.

Zhang began by studying adult hematopoietic stem cells. Offspring of some of these cells develop into all of the red and white blood cells, while others form the immune system. Using fetal tissue from mice as the source of these cells, Zhang discovered a population of cells that were not stem cells, yet appeared to interact with stem cells, preserving and allowing them to multiply in the fetal environment. When he isolated the stem cells in the lab and cultured them in a dish by themselves, they died. When he mixed them with these newly discovered cells, they thrived.

Zhang used a microarray platform to search for genes that were active in these newly discovered cells, but not active in similar neighboring cells. Some such genes, he reasoned, might encode secreted proteins that sustained stem cells. Eventually, he located a number of such genes.

Later, Zhang then discovered that two more growth factor proteins, When Zhang combined these two proteins with the genes and added them to hematopoietic stem cells, the result was a 30-fold increase.

"People have been culturing and working with these cells for years, and never before have we seen such an increase," said Zhang.


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