A new method to easily culture pluripotent stem cells was developed by a team of Japanese researchers including Osaka University, Ajinomoto Co., collagen-producing company Nippi Inc. and Kyoto University’s Center of iPS Cell Research and Application. The new culture system does not use animal ingredients, which lowers the risk of infection in transplant therapy according to a British science journal.
The new culture system will be useful in speeding up the efforts to employ iPS cells for regenerative medicine. The researchers discovered that using a type of protein, laminin-511, which can stick cells together, helps cells to be stable on culture plates. The method is safer in producing iPS cells because of the use of amino acids and vitamins rather than animal ingredients, like feeder cells or mouse cells and even bovine serum-containing medium as nutrients. Risks and infections associated with the use of tissues and cells created under the current culture system requires it to undergo safety tests which can be time-consuming.
The researchers also found out that human iPS cells developed from the new system can transform into nerve cells that produce neurotransmitter dopamine, insulin-producing cells and blood cells. This new culture system may also be applied to embryonic stem cells.