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Breakthrough reveals blood vessel cells are key to growing unlimited amounts of adult stem cells
Date:3/4/2010

NEW YORK (March 4, 2010) -- In a leap toward making stem cell therapy widely available, researchers at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that endothelial cells, the most basic building blocks of the vascular system, produce growth factors that can grow copious amounts of adult stem cells and their progeny over the course of weeks. Until now, adult stem cell cultures would die within four or five days despite best efforts to grow them.

"This is groundbreaking research with potential application for regeneration of organs and inhibition of cancer cell growth," said Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College and Provost for Medical Affairs of Cornell University. "We are indebted to Shahla and Hushang Ansary for founding this Institute and to the Starr Foundation Tri-Institutional Stem Cell Initiative for ongoing support."

This new finding sets forth the innovative concept that blood vessels are not just passive conduits for delivery of oxygen and nutrients, but are also programmed to maintain and proliferate stem cells and their mature forms in adult organs. Using a novel approach to harness the potential of endothelial cells by "co-culturing" them with stem cells, the researchers discovered the means to manufacture an unlimited supply of blood-related stem cells that may eventually ensure that anyone who needs a bone marrow transplant can get one.

The vascular-cell model established in this study could also be used to grow abundant functional stem cells from other organs such as the brain, heart, skin and lungs. An article detailing these findings appears in the March 5 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell.

In adult organs, there are few naturally occurring stem cells, so using them for organ regeneration is impractical. Until now, strategies to expand cultures of adult stem cells, which invariably used animal-based growth fa
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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