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Researchers devise way to mass-produce embryonic stem cells

That's important because traditional laboratory methods used to grow these cells are costly and don't produce cells fast enough to respond to increasing demands for human embryonic stem cells, said Shang-Tian Yang, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Ohio State University.

Federal rules forbid the federal funding of research on human embryonic stem cell lines that aren't listed on the National Institutes of Health's Human Embryonic Stem Cell Registry. There are currently 22 embryonic stem cell lines on the registry, and the demand for these cells is steadily growing.

"We have to find a way to mass-produce them because traditional cell culturing methods can't meet the projected high market demand for stem cells," Yang said.

He and Anli Ouyang, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, grew mouse embryonic stem cells in a bioreactor. Cell growth increased 193-fold in 15 days. At the end of that period, cell density ?the number of cells that had grown in the bioreactor ?was anywhere from 10- to 100-fold higher than the number of stem cells produced by conventional laboratory methods. That's several hundreds of millions more stem cells.

Mass-producing cells like this could reduce stem cell production costs by at least 80 percent, Yang said, as it requires less equipment and monitoring.

Embryonic stem cells are unspecialized, or undifferentiated, cells that can grow into any of the body's 200 different types of cells.

Yang and Ouyang presented their findings in San Diego on March 15 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society.

They grew some mouse embryonic stem cells in a flask ?a conventional way to grow stem cells ?while other stem cells grew upon strands of polymer threads inside a bioreactor.

The bioreactor used in this study is a tissue-growing device developed by Ohio State scientists. While this bioreactor could be used to produce adult stem cells, the researchers ch
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Source:Ohio State University


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