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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Researchers discover exciting new line of stem cells by accident


The already exciting prospect of stem cell research has just got a little more exciting, with the discovery of a new line of “more robust and easily manipulated” embryonic stem cells, completely by accident.A team of researchers from the University of Missouri came across the new cell type during studies into the causes of pre-eclampsia, a rare and complex condition which affects only pregnant women. It requires emergency caesarian early on in pregnancy to save both mother and child and it’s causes are currently attributed to a variety of factors, including shallow placentas.
“We can use these new stem cells for future research to better understand how embryos are organised and what causes diseases like pre-eclampsia and other prenatal problems.” said Michael Roberts, a Curators Professor of Animal Science and a Professor of Biochemistry. “These new stem cells made us realise that embryonic stem cells exist in a number of different transitional states, and it should open the door for future stem cell research that is much more efficient.”
The stem cells, termed bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-primed stem cells by the team, were accidentally discovered during the growth of placenta cells. As part of their study, Roberts and his colleagues were attempting to grow placenta cells from embryonic stem cells by adding a substance called BMP-4, a protein which helps define axes of growth in embryo development, for a shorter timeframe than had previously been studied. Instead of forming placenta cells, however, the stem cells grew into what was a previously unobserved state – “BMP primed”.
They found these cells were much easier to work with in the laboratory than traditional stem cells, due to easier growth and them expressing their genes in a similar way. Embryonic stem cells as a whole are of increasing interest in research, due their ability to develop into a number of different cell types such as muscle, bone or skin.

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