There are a lot of illnesses that can be tackled with stem cells, but making them is quite a challenge.
Until now, there was no efficient or effective way to grow a massive number of stem cells and also keep them in the regenerative state. At Stanford University, Sarah Heilshorn, the associate professor of materials science and engineering has said that this exact issue has prevented them from seeing ‘more progress in creating therapies’.
The 2D surfaces that have been used in growing stem cells until now aren’t enough when it comes to cultivating large numbers.
Stem cells are amazing, being able to transform into any type of cell and be used to cure any illnesses like spinal cord injury or even cancers.
Great News – Large Volumes of Stem Cells Can Now Be Created
Researchers at Stanford University have found a way to grow more stem cells in smaller places, with no need of occupying too much space. With the help of polymer-based gels, the stem cells get to grow in a 3D stack.
Sarah Heilshorn and her team realized that they can grow the stem cells in a 3D environment, taking up less space in their labs. A 3D culture will occupy a 4 x 4 – inch space (16 square inches) instead of the similar amount in 2D that would occupy 4 x 4 feet (16 square feet), meaning that they will reduce the occupied space by 100 times!
Not only space will be saved, but the 3D gel will reduce energy use and will require fewer nutrients. The stem cells can connect with each other and remodel long molecules through the 3D gel. In order to keep their regenerative properties, the stem cells need to touch each other, Sarah Heilshorn says.
After this discovery, Sarah Heilshorn and her team will be working on finding a way to transfer these stem cells from the lab dish directly into the body.
With the discovery of 3D gel environment for growing stem cells, Sarah Heilshorn is now positive that she will find new things and ‘solve some big problems’.