Researchers find key to growing, differentiating human cells

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Researchers at Ohio State University have taken the first step toward differentiating human cells in an artificial growth medium.

The finding, announced recently at the American Chemical Society Meeting in San Francisco, may one day aid the production of human organs for transplant.

"We're laying the foundation for artificially growing cells that develop specialized characteristics, just as cells that make up organs naturally do in the body," said Douglas Kniss, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Ohio State.

A new thermal compression technique allowed the researchers to alter the growth medium inside a fibrous-bed bioreactor and change how cells grow and reproduce. That bioreactor is a tissue-growing device previously developed at Ohio State.

In tests, the researchers were able to coax human placental cells to form clusters and initiate the same kind of chemical changes as stem cells in the body do before they differentiate. Co-investigators on the project include Shang-Tian Yang, professor, and Yan Li, a graduate student, both of chemical engineering; Teng Ma, a postdoctoral researcher in obstetrics and gynecology; and Larry Lasky, associate professor of pathology. Li presented the findings at the American Chemical Society meeting.

Yang designed the bioreactor as a three-dimensional alternative to the flat petri dishes that scientists normally use to culture cells. The device is capable

Contact: Douglas Kniss
Ohio State University

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