Member Article

New stem cell tools to aid drug development

North East scientists have designed, developed and tested new molecular tools for stem cell research.

A collaborative team of scientists from Durham University and the North East England Stem Cell Institute (NESCI) have developed two synthetic molecules which can be used to coax stem cells to ‘differentiate’ - that is, transform into other forms of tissue.

The new molecules have been found to be far more stable than the naturally-occurring molecule currently used to induce stem cells to differentiate in the laboratory. Their use will thus improve the reliability of experiments.

The scientists say it is also significant that each individual synthetic molecule has been found to be more effective at causing the cells to transform into specific types of tissue.

For example, one molecule was found to be particularly effective at producing nerve cells which can be used in laboratory testing for drugs for brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Dr Stefan Przyborski from Durham University said: “The key thing about these synthetic molecules is that they remain stable and are exactly the same every time you use them, ensuring more reliable scientific experiments. “Because the results will be more scientifically robust, this will accelerate drug development using human stem cell-derived tissues and potentially reduce the numbers of animals used in such research.”

The scientists are now developing a ‘molecular toolkit’ of synthetic compounds which are tailor made for specific stem cell and drug development work.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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