Researchers in new stem cell discovery

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SCIENTISTS working on human stem cell research in Yorkshire yesterday said they had found a way of artificially creating the conditions required for their growth.

A team from the University of Sheffield and University of California, San Diego, said they had used a synthetic foam-type material with a “random stickiness”.

Earlier attempts to produce conditions for stem cell growth have apparently led to materials that were “too sticky”, which hindered the stem cells maturation into tissue cells.

Professor Giuseppe Battaglia, of Sheffield University’s department of biomedical science, said: “What was surprising to the team was that when we allowed stem cells to adhere to the foams, we found that random stickiness versus uniform stickiness was required for stem cells to properly adhere.

“We also found that this is likely necessary for stem cell development into mature tissue cells.

“In this sense, stem cells are like Goldilocks – the scaffold should not be too sticky or not sticky enough, it must be just right to maximise adhesion, and later, maturation into tissue cells.”

The data was published following a collaboration between Professor Battaglia, who specialises in synthetic biology, and Adam Engler, an assistant professor of bioengineering from San Diego.

Their findings were first revealed in the Journal of the American Chemical Society and their work has now been highlighted in this week’s issue of scientific journal Nature.