Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Cell Culture
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Stem Cells Could Set Up Future Transplant Therapies

Published: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Bookmark and Share
New method for developing stem cells enables production of liver and pancreatic cells in clinically relevant quantities.

Scientists have developed a new method for creating stem cells for the human liver and pancreas. This method could enable both cell types to be grown in sufficient quantities for clinical use.

Using the technique, researchers have for the first time been able to grow a pure, self-renewing population of stem cells specific to the human foregut - the section of the digestive system that includes the liver and pancreas. These digestive cells could then be developed further to produce liver or pancreatic cells.

Stem cells have the potential to be used to replace dying or damaged cells with healthy cells and have potential wide-ranging uses in medicine such as organ replacement, bone replacement and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.

This method significantly improves on existing techniques for cultivating these stem cells and raises the possibility that, with further work, they could be grown in large numbers. That would make it possible to use them for regenerative therapies, such as repairing damaged organs or tissues in the body.

"We have developed a cell culture system which allows us to specifically isolate foregut cells in the lab," Dr Nicholas Hannan, from the University of Cambridge Wellcome Trust MRC Stem Cell Institute, Department for Surgery, explained. Hannan led the study, which was carried out in the lab of Dr Ludovic Vallier, joint Faculty member of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of Cambridge.

"These cells have huge implications for regenerative medicine, because they are the precursors to the thyroid, upper airways, lungs, liver, pancreas, stomach and biliary systems. We now have a system where we may be able to create all these cell types from the same starting population."

To grow pancreatic or liver cells, stem cells are differentiated into the endoderm - the primary tissue layer associated with the digestive and respiratory systems. This provides a base population of cells that researchers can then try to develop as more specialised cells, such as heart or lung cells. Unfortunately, other cell types can grow, making it difficult to identify the target cells in the lab and complicating the application of these cells in transplant therapies.

The new approach overcomes some of these problems that currently limit scientists’ ability to grow cells associated with this region in sufficiently large numbers for clinical use.

By manipulating the signal pathways of the cells and varying the environment in which the cells were developed, researchers were able to isolate the precise treatments needed to drive differentiation of cells associated with the foregut itself. When heavily contaminated stem cell populations were developed under these conditions, the contaminating cells eventually died out.

The universal nature of this culture system takes a step towards a universal system that could be used to treat any patient requiring cells for transplantation purposes.

The cells generated are true stem cells because they are able to self-renew and can differentiate towards any part of the foregut. Because they are also still at the stage where they can self-renew, they can be grown in large enough numbers to be used in clinical therapies. The team was also able to show that these human foregut stem cells do not form tumours, which means that they could be safely injected for therapeutic purposes, without having adverse side effects.

"What we have now is a better starting point - a sustainable platform for producing liver and pancreatic cells," Dr Ludovic Vallier, senior author of the study, said. "It will improve the quality of the cells that we produce and it will allow us to produce the large number of uncontaminated cells we need for the clinical application of stem cell therapy."

Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
Novel Tumor Treatment
In the first published results from a $386,000 National Cancer Institute grant awarded earlier this year, a paper by Scott Verbridge and Rafael Davalos has been published.
Personalized Drug Screening for Multiple Myeloma Patients
A personalized method for testing the effectiveness of drugs that treat multiple myeloma may predict quickly and more accurately the best treatments for individual patients with the bone marrow cancer.
Cancer-Fighting Tomato Component Traced
The metabolic pathway associated with lycopene, the bioactive red pigment found in tomatoes, has been traced by researchers at the University of Illinois.
Some Gut Microbes May Be Keystones of Health
University of Oregon scientists have found that strength in numbers doesn’t hold true for microbes in the intestines. A minority population of the right type might hold the key to regulating good health.
The Life Story of Stem Cells
A model analyses the development of stem cell numbers in the human body.
Novel Stem Cell Line Avoids Risk of Introducing Transplanted Tumors
Progenitor cells might eventually be used to repair or rebuild damaged or destroyed organs.
Tissue Engineers Recruit Cells to Make Their Own Strong Matrix
Extracellular matrix is the material that gives tissues their strength and stretch. It’s been hard to make well in the lab, but a Brown University team reports new success. The key was creating a culture environment that guided cells to make ECM themselves.
Towards Patient-Specific Drug Screening
A new breakthrough by the 3D stem cell printing team at Heriot-Watt could pave the way to individually tailored drug testing regimes, both reducing the need for animal testing and ensuring that patients receive drugs which are most effective for their individual needs.
Artificial Kidney Research Gets A Boost
Development of a surgically implantable, artificial kidney — a promising alternative to kidney transplantation or dialysis for people with end-stage kidney disease — has received a $6 million boost.
Improving the Efficiency of Red Blood Cell Production
Study points to way of significantly reducing cost of laboratory-produced cells.

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos