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Scripps Research team overcomes major obstacle for stem cell therapies and research
Date:9/8/2011

as numerous as those for stem cells themselves. Lectin purification could be used with any of a huge range of therapies currently in development. In addition to low cost and reliability, the lectins used are plant products, so they do not introduce the type of safety concerns that could arise from using antibodies that are produced by animal cells.

Even in more basic research, effective studies using stem or differentiated cells generally requires purification so that effects can be identified and tracked without introducing complications from impurities in a group of cells.

Loring's group, for instance, is studying the production of nerve cells that might be used to treat a specific type of autism caused by a known genetic mutation. Producing the nerve cells needed is a laborious process that will be more efficient with better purification.

The Loring team is also working to identify different binding patterns that would allow them to similarly purify mixtures of specific types of non-stem cells. "In theory, this should allow us to pull any cell type out of any mixture," she said of the basic lectin technique.

At the more basic research level, because all the different stem cell lines from both humans and animals seem to produce similar glycoproteins binding to the lectins, it is possible these glycoproteins infer some basic qualities fundamental to the pluripotent state. Loring and her colleagues are exploring this possibility in hopes of better understanding stem cells' still mysterious abilities to transform into any type of cell. "We may have uncovered something really fundamental about pluripotency," said Loring.


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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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