Human embryonic stem cells are known for their ability to turn into most cell types of the body. Although many types of human cells have been tested as feeder layers for hESC cells, they do not support the hESC culture as well as the mouse cells.

Recently, Michael Shamblott, an assistant professor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at the Hopkins School of Medicine, and his colleagues were able to successfully culture hESC cell lines on tissue isolated from human umbilical cord blood (UCB). Fibroblast cells from UCB can be easily harvested after birth from the placenta without posing harm to an infant.

Shamblott’s team showed that the hESCs cultured in this novel feeder layer are still able to successfully differentiate after the feeder layer is removed.

Embryoid bodies are microscopic structures formed as embryonic stem cells differentiate. These bodies are markers of successful differentiation. The most important feature of this novel feeder layer for hESCs are the clinical applications this new discovery portends, especially in the development of cell therapy for diseases.

This new method of stem cell production offers scientists a great deal of versatility in clinical applications.In addition, hESCs grow differently on UCB-derived feeder layers than in PMEF feeder cells and can be conveniently lifted off the new UCB-derived feeder layer, making them prime candidates for large-scale production of hESCs for therapeutic applications.

Shamblott said,

“In this country, human umbilical blood is often discarded as waste, when they could potentially save the lives, since there is no unified system for their collection. When umbilical blood is harvested from the placenta there is no risk involved from either the mother or the fetus.”

Source: News Letter