Scientists make pure precursor liver and pancreas cells from stem cells

Posted: January 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm

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A new study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, describes how scientists have developed a way of producing highly sought populations of a pure tissue-specific cell from human pluripotent stem cells.

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are precursor cells than can produce over 200 distinct cell types in the human body. They hold great promise for regenerative medicine and drug screening. The idea is to be able to generate a range of pure tissue types by manipulating these precursor cells.

However, it is proving very challenging to obtain large numbers of pure, untainted, tissue-specific cells from hPSCs. Part of the problem is how to ensure they receive highly specific signals, that do not coax them down paths that lead to a range of other tissue types.

Now, a team led by the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) in the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) has developed a new way of coaxing hPSCs to produce highly pure populations of endoderm, a valuable cell type that gives rise to organs like the liver and pancreas, bringing closer the day when stem cells can be used in clinical settings.

One of the study leaders is Dr. Bing Lim, senior group leader and associate director of Cancer Stem Cell Biology at the GIS. He and his colleagues developed a highly systematic and novel screening method.

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Scientists make pure precursor liver and pancreas cells from stem cells

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