Biotechnology

Large-Scale Growth

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Science  09 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5545, pp. 1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5545.1243d

Since the derivation of human embryonic stem (ES) cells, there has been enormous scientific and political interest in the stem cell arena, with expectations that these cells may one day be used to treat individuals with spinal cord injuries and degenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease. One limitation to growing these cells is that they require a layer of mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) feeder cells, which apparently promote maintenance of human ES cells in an undifferentiated state. Xu et al. show that human ES cells can be grown under feeder-free conditions as long as matrix proteins—Matrigel or laminin—are included in MEF-conditioned medium. These cells express the same factors as ES cells grown on MEF feeder cells. Furthermore, they have a normal karyotype, stable growth rate, and high telomerase activity and are able to differentiate into cells from all three germ layers.—BAP

Nature Biotechnol.19, 971 (2001).

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