Stem Cell Reproduction Problem Solved?
A major problem in working with stem cells to treat a variety of diseases is getting enough of them.
The only way to increase the numbers of stem cells, once they have been removed from the body, is to convince them to reproduce themselves in sufficient numbers to be useful. That problem may have been solved by a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT), located in Powai, Mumbai, India.
Led by Dr. Abhijit Majumder, from the institute’s Department of Chemical Engineering, they found that a “hydrogel plate made of polyacrylamide is an ideal replacement for the conventionally used plastic culture plates. Unlike the plastic plates, the hydrogel plates ensured that stem cells placed on them multiplied and retained their stem cell-like nature—their stemness—for up to 51 days (20 generations) and differentiated into bone, cartilage or fat cells.”
When the mesenchymal stem cells were grown on plastic culture plates, they became large and flat, and irregular in shape. They stop multiplying and growing and reach senescence after a limited number of cell divisions.
With this discovery a major obstacle in using human mesenchymal stem cells to treat a variety of diseases may well have overcome.