By Tanushri Sundar, The Stanford Daily, Aug 12, 2016.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered the combinations of biological and chemical signals needed to rapidly generate human cell types from human embryonic stem cells, according to Stanford Medicine News. Pure populations of up to 12 cell types can now be created in five to nine days, as opposed to the weeks or months previously required.
The senior authors of the study are Irving Weissman, director of Stanford’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine and its Ludwig Cancer Center, and Lay Teng Ang of the Genome Institute of Singapore. The lead authors of the study are Stanford Ph.D. student Kyle Loh and research assistant Angela Chen. The study was published on July 14 in Cell.
Cell types that can be produced include bone, heart muscle and cartilage. This may allow researchers to create beating heart cells for heart attack patients or cartilage or bone to aid in joint repair.
“Previously, people had some success in turning stem cells into different cell types,” Loh said. “The problem was, it often took a very long time, like weeks or months, and moreover, they generated an impure mixture of cell types.” Researchers might have gotten bone cells, heart cells and pancreatic cells, as opposed to the pure populations generated by the newfound method.