March 25, 2010
Endothelial Cells Enable Stem Cells To Grow

Adult stem cells can be grown much more easily on vascular endothelial cells.

In a leap toward making stem cell therapy widely available, researchers at the Ansary Stem Cell Institute at Weill Cornell Medical College have discovered that endothelial cells, the most basic building blocks of the vascular system, produce growth factors that can grow copious amounts of adult stem cells and their progeny over the course of weeks. Until now, adult stem cell cultures would die within four or five days despite best efforts to grow them.

I wonder how easily the stem cells can be made into useful therapies. For example, if stem cells are removed from joints, grown into much larger quantities, and then injected into damaged joints will they repair the joints? Just how many steps are there between the step where lots of stem cells can be grown to the step where the stem cells can fix damaged and aged tissue?

Blood vessels probably normally maintain stem cells.

This new finding sets forth the innovative concept that blood vessels are not just passive conduits for delivery of oxygen and nutrients, but are also programmed to maintain and proliferate stem cells and their mature forms in adult organs. Using a novel approach to harness the potential of endothelial cells by "co-culturing" them with stem cells, the researchers discovered the means to manufacture an unlimited supply of blood-related stem cells that may eventually ensure that anyone who needs a bone marrow transplant can get one.

The scientists expect this approach to work for other types of stem cells for other parts of the body.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 March 25 10:41 PM  Biotech Stem Cells

PacRim Jim said at March 25, 2010 11:10 PM:

I call dibs on rejuvenating my arteries (if Obama's death panels let me).

random said at March 26, 2010 8:14 AM:

Perhaps this is why tumors tend to grow so many blood vessels. The growth factors probably cause a feedback loop.

Randall Parker said at March 26, 2010 6:22 PM:

PacRim Jim,

If you want to rejuvenate your arteries start saving your money! Seriously. I keep reading doctors in business news articles saying things like this:

Little, a primary care internist, closed his Lottsburg Va.-based practice on Dec. 31. Lottsburg, located in Northumberland County, is in one of the nation's designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).


Medicare typically pays doctors significantly lower than private insurers for comparable services.

Then the recession hit, badly bruising Lottsburg businesses and eroding jobs. "Our net revenue dropped 28% last year," said Little.

"What kept my business going all these years were the payments from my privately insured patients which subsidized the losses from Medicare," Little said. "I lost half of those patients in 2009 and I couldn't cover my losses and my business expenses," he said.

Downs' situation isn't an isolated one, he warned. "It's being repeated throughout rural America and in many areas that already have a shortage of doctors," he said.

As the overall population ages and the costs of Medicare soar the US government is going to do more cuts on payments to doctors. So more doctors will close up their practices or at least stop accepting Medicare patients. American citizens who are expecting to be able to get the latest medical treatments in their old age are going to be out of luck unless they saved a lot of money to pay for those treatments.

You need the money to travel to wherever the best cell therapies, gene therapies, organ replacements, RNAi therapies, and other cutting edge therapies will be sold. In some cases that'll be in China.

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