A recent research has resulted in a method that could facilitate the mass production of stem cells. It was carried out at the University of Nottingham and it may lead to a revolution in medicine.
Stems cells are basic organisms within our body that can transform when needed into most other types of cells found within our body. In this way, they can help to repair most parts of our bodies when damaged.
However, stem cells come in a limited supply in adults and some diseases (mostly those that affect the bone marrow) can severely deplete them. One of the more common methods of gathering additional cells requires harvesting them from a few days old human embryo. This process unfortunately always results in the embryo’s destruction, a problem which has raised many ethical concerns.
Even this method provides only up to a few hundred stem cells. However, scientists from the University of Nottingham state that they found a way to potentially create them in the millions. They created an artificial substrate that would allow for large amounts of stem cells to be harvested at once.
Scientists have been able to artificially grow stem cells in reduce numbers, but this substrate seems to be actively encouraging the cells to divide. The cells are also provided with a highly nutritious substance to fuel their growth. If things are going as the research team is expecting, we may be looking at a potential factory of stem cells.
Furthermore, the method is highly cost-efficient. The cultures do not require constant attention and can be safely stored for longer periods of time. This could allow for a single laboratory to grow up to up to billions of cells at once, with a single flask containing up to 25 million of them.
The technique can is entirely self-regenerating, meaning that stem cells created this way can continuously divide if supplied with nutrients. It also compatible with existing cell cultures growing technology.
This has the potential to make transplants obsolete in the future, as entire organs could be grown from these cultures. However, at the moment, it is very difficult to make stem cells produced outside a body to transform into different tissues.
But the research shows great promise so far. If everything goes according to plan, stem cells could be used to repair any part of our body, from the skin to the brain.
Image Source: stemcells.dev.biologists.org