Scientists develop a better way ‘to create human stem cells’

MIT scientists, including an Indian-origin researcher, claim to have developed a better way of creating human stem cells which could become any other body cell and treat any disease that involves injuries to cells. Most materials now used to grow human stem cells include cells or proteins that come from mice embryos, which help stimulate stem cell growth but would likely cause an immune reaction if injected into a human patient. Moreover, largescale production of such cells often becomes difficult. Now, Krishanu Saha and colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a synthetic surface that includes no foreign animal material and allows stem cells to stay alive, and even continue reproducing themselves for at least three months, the ‘Nature Materials’ journal reported. It’s also the first synthetic material that allows single cells to form colonies of identical cells, which is necessary to identify cells with desired traits and has been difficult to achieve with existing materials, according to the scientists. Human stem cells can come from two sources – embryonic cells or body cells that have been reprogrammed to an immature state. That state, known as pluripotency, allows the cells to develop into any kind of specialised body cells. It can treat ailments like multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury. To engineer such treatments, researchers would need to be able to grow stem cells in the lab for an extended period of time, manipulate their genes, and grow colonies of identical cells after they have been genetically modified.

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