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Elasticity found to stretch stem cell growth to higher levels
Date:10/3/2010

One of the major challenges in stem cell transplants is how to obtain sufficient numbers of these remarkably rare cells to put into patients. To help overcome this issue, research from the Centenary Institute, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the University of Sydney has found a way to increase the number of blood-forming stem cells when growing them outside of the body.

By using a unique stretchy surface that allows the cells to pull on it, the researchers found they could generate up to three times more stem cells than using current methods alone. Published today in the leading biotechnology journal Nature Biotechnology, lead author Professor John Rasko from the Centenary Institute and RPA Hospital announced these findings could significantly improve the outcomes of stem cell transplants.

Centenary Institute Head of Gene and Stem Cell Therapy Professor John Rasko* said: "Haemopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or blood-forming stem cells play a critical role in creating the blood cells in our body. In order to expand the number of these cells, researchers have attempted to reproduce the unique environment where stem cells live inside the body. In the past we have learnt how to use hormones and drugs to influence these niche environments but less is known about the effect of physical forces.

"Our research has, for the first time, successfully demonstrated that physical forces created by elasticity play a key role in blood-forming cell growth and may mimic the environment of stem cells inside our body. What we've discovered is that blood-forming stem cells like it to be super stretchy because, like a cat on a sofa, they like to pull on their environment."

Dr Jeff Holst#, first author of the publication, combined routinely-used cell hormones with a new elastic-like substance called tropoelastin to coat the plates on which the cells were grown. The study found that growing the stem cells on tropoelastin alone could create as m
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Contact: Tanya Sarina
t.sarina@centenary.org.au
61-431-029-215
Centenary Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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