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UW-Madison researchers report stem cell breakthrough

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« on: November 15, 2010, 11:16:19 am »

UW-Madison researchers report stem cell breakthrough

Story Discussion Font Size: Default font size Larger font size UW-Madison researchers report stem cell breakthrough
By SAMARA KALK DERBY | | 608-252-6439 | (15) Comments | Posted: Monday, November 15, 2010 9:00 am

This 2007 file photo shows UW professor Laura Kiessling, who recently announced that her research team has figured out a way to grow stem cells on a large scale so they can be used for studies and potential therapies.
 Leah L. Jones State Journal archives

A team of UW-Madison researchers has added another stem cell breakthrough to the university's leadership in the field, figuring out a way to grow the cells on a large scale so they can be used for studies and potential therapies.

"What we've developed is a very simple surface that anyone in the field could easily use to grow stem cells," said Laura Kiessling, a UW-Madison professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

The team led by Kiessling writes about the inexpensive system, which takes much of the guess work out of culturing the all-purpose cells, this week in the journal Nature Methods.

"We're very excited about it," Kiessling said. "It's very helpful for stem cell research to have defined conditions to culture the cells."

Stem cells have the ability to develop into many different types of cells in the body. In many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, dividing essentially without limit to replenish other cells.

Research into stem cells is considered critical for finding cures for many diseases, including diabetes, Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries. UW-Madison stem cell researcher Jamie Thomson became the first person to isolate human embryonic stem cells in 1998.

Stem cells need a kind of food that supplies nutrients so they can grow, Kiessling said. They also need to stick to a surface to grow and there's been no defined surface for them to stick. Researchers have looked at different proteins, and cells can grow on top of the proteins, but it's expensive and difficult, she said.

There is clearly a need for defined, scalable approaches to grow stem cells, said Bill Murphy, a professor in biomedical engineering, pharmacology and orthopedics at UW-Madison, whose research involves developing materials that induce stem cells to regenerate lost or damaged tissues.

"This new development could address complications associated with the use of animal products in culture and lead to more well-defined tools for stem cell research and therapeutic applications," Murphy said.

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Posted in Health_med_fit on Monday, November 15, 2010 9:00 am Updated: 9:06 am. | Tags: Uw-madison, Stem Cells, Science, Laura Kiessling,
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