New synthetic substrate supports stem cell mass production
Scientists at The University of Nottingham (Nottingham, UK) have created a fully synthetic substrate with the potential to grow billions of stem cells, and therefore improve the commercial potential of cell therapies
Some prospective stem cell therapies will require a huge number of cells in order to regenerate damaged tissue to a sufficient level, or even completely. Consequently, scale-up of stem cell production is necessary in order to sufficient quantities of cells.
In a GB£2.3 million research project entitled ‘Discovery of a Novel Polymer for Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Expansion and Multilineage Differentiation’, experts at The University of Nottingham (Nottingham, UK) have discovered a substrate that could pave the way for ‘stem cell factories’ capable of mass producing human embryonic stem cells capable of being used as off-the-shelf clinical therapies.
The team had been searching for polymers capable if growing and differentiating billions of human pluripotent stem cells. Using a high-throughput materials discovery approach, the research team identified a man-made material, free from possible contamination and batch variability.
Professor Morgan Alexander, Director of the Interface and Surface Analysis Centre and co-lead of the project, commented: “The possibilities for regenerative medicine are still being researched in the form of clinical trials. What we are doing here is paving the way for the manufacture of stem cells in large numbers when those therapies are proved to be safe and effective.”
Having shown the potential of the substrate in the laboratory, the research team is looking for a commercial partner to test it on an industrial scale. Professor Chris Denning, Professor of Stem Cell Biology in the School of Medicine and the second lead on the project, concludes: “The field of regenerative medicine has snowballed in the last 5 years and over the coming 5 years a lot more patients will be receiving stem cell treatments. Clinical trials are still in the very early stages. However, with this kind of product, if we can get it commercialized and validated by the regulators it could be helping patients in 2–3 years.”