At Rutgers' Stem Cell Research Center scientists are exploring the mysteries of human embryonic stem cells and their potential use in treating diseases, repairing damaged organs, and drug development. Center staff also offer a course in proper lab techniques in working with stem cells. The center was established with a grant to Professors Martin Grumet and Wise Young from the State of New Jersey through its Commission on Science and Technology.
The center focuses on human embryonic stem cells, known as hESCs, because they are pluripotent, meaning they have the unique ability to develop into any kind of cell in the body whether it is a heart cell or a brain cell or a liver cell.
Among the accomplishments of the Rutgers Stem Cell Research Center (RSCRC) is a series of recently published papers, one of which is by Professor Rick Cohen and his colleagues, describing the derivation of New Jersey's first hESC lines.
A stem cell line is a family of constantly dividing cells, the product of a single parent stem cell. The new lines are particularly important. Many of the cell lines previously approved by the federal government were found to have been contaminated with non-human proteins that compromise their potential therapeutic use in human subjects.
The paper also describes how the team developed a series of tests to determine the quality of these new cell lines. This quality control approach is critical to ensure that the cells are suitable for laboratory use and potential clinical applications. For example, among the panel of 11 assays is a test to make certain cells are still completely pluripotent.
Another test included in the paper ensures that the cells are not contaminated with common human viruses. These might include HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; the herpes simplex virus, which causes cold sores; and the human papilloma virus, now believed to be a leading cause of cervical cancer in adult women.
|Contact: Joseph Blumberg|