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From one cell, many possible cures

ioreactor.

Ma's research has attracted attention on several fronts. He has received research funding totaling about $1.2 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the James & Esther King Biomedical Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the FSU Cornerstone Program. He also recently received two U.S. patents relating to the perfusion bioreactor, and indicates that they are negotiating with a technology company to manufacture the device for other stem cell researchers.

Collaborating with Ma on his perfusion bioreactor research were post-doctoral student Feng Zhao and former graduate student Warren Grayson.

While much of the controversy surrounding stem cell research has centered around the use of cells derived from fetal or embryonic tissue, Ma points out that the mesenchymal stem cells used in his research come from adult donors.

"The National Institutes of Health helped establish the Tulane Center for Gene Therapy at Tulane University as a national distributor of these cells to researchers," he said. "The center is the source of the stem cells we use.

"All of their donors are adults between the ages of 19 and 49. Essentially, each donor undergoes a medical procedure in which a small amount of bone marrow is extracted from his or her pelvic bone."

Within that extracted bone marrow, only about one in every 100,000 cells is a stem cell, Ma said. "Because they are so rare, the ability to reproduce stem cells in a laboratory becomes particularly significant for further research and clinical trials."

Ma's research may lead to important breakthroughs in the field of stem cell research and application, said Bruce Locke, chairman of the department of chemical and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering. "By addressing one of the key issues constraining this research -- a limited supply of stem cells -- he could help advance the development of numerous medical therapies by
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Source:Florida State University


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