Sunday, August 01, 2004

Direct from Hidustan Times:
Breakthrough in stem cell storage

Breakthrough in stem cell storage
Singapore, August 2

In a new research, stem-cell expert Ariff Bongso and his team at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created so-called xeno, or animal-free storage systems, which allow stem cells nourished with human protein to be  frozen long-term without the danger of being contaminated.

According to Straits Times, Bongso's team was the first in the world to succeed in growing 'animal nutrient-free' stem cells two  years ago. The latest breakthrough details how the cells are stored in straws, nourished with human protein and sealed at both ends.

“Ultimately, this will be a boon to stem cell banks that  I believe will be set up to  further research in this area,” Bongso said.  Almost nine in 10 cells survive intact in this state  and have been shown to react in the same way as 'fresh' stem cells. Also, as  liquid nitrogen is an enviro-nment in which some viruses like HIV and hepatitis can thrive, the team chose to keep the cells safe by sealing the straws and preserving them in the vapour above the liquid nitrogen.   ES Cell, which supported the new research, plans to become one of the first companies in the world to provide these 'gold standard' cells for  clinical trials.  According to Robert Klupacs of ES Cell, which supported the new research, said the  data from Bongso's laboratory was 'extremely important' for the company in its efforts to develop new xeno-free human embryonic stem cells for use in the production of islet cells for diabetics and heart cells as therapeutic products.