Human and other mammalian stem cells including embryonic stem cells (hESCs and ESCs) have enormous potential as predictive models of early development or for cell replacement therapies. Because hESCs show remarkable sensitivity towards environmental influences, their continuous undifferentiated growth has been a major challenge undermining widespread use of hESCs in many applications. Currently, sustained hESC cultures still require naturally-derived cell substrates which may be xenogenic, and are associated with shortcomings including batch-to-batch inconstancies and contaminations. As such, synthetic polymers have been proposed as cell culture substrates of hESCs, because of their well-defined and reproducible fabrication, but have not yet been established for long-term hESC cultures
Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed compositions and methods for establishing and maintaining growth of cells and embryonic tissue on a synthetic polymer matrix. For example, the present invention provides synthetic growth matrices for stem cells, gametes, mature differentiated cells, and embryonic tissue (e.g., blastomeres, embryos, and embryoid bodies). The cells are capable of going through multiple passages while remaining in an undifferentiated state as a result of the synthetic polymer matrix.
Applications and Advantages
- Long term cell culture, including maintenance of hESCs in undifferentiated state
- Synthetic polymer; defined composition and minimized variability as compared to currently available naturally-derived substrates