Singapore scientist makes stem cell research advance

.c Kyodo News Service


A scientist in Singapore has succeeded in growing human embryonic stem cells without any exposure to non-human animal cells, marking a major breakthrough in stem cell research, the company that funded the research announced Monday.

The new technology will make it possible to offer stem cell lines, which are free of materials derived from non-human animals, and thus suitable for use in clinical trials, said ES Cell International, an Australia-based Singapore company with majority government ownership.

The research will be published in the September 2002 edition of Nature Biotechnology, the most respected scientific journal in the field, which is published in the United States.

The team of researchers led by Ariff Bongso, a research professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), conducted their trailblazing research at the university.

The 56-year-old Sri Lankan-born Bongso, who has been a Singapore citizen for the last 16 years, said the methodology will be refined further by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the creation of additional cell lines for clinical application.

Stem cell lines supported by non-human animal-derived materials pose the risk of transmission of pathogens from the non-human animal feeder cells to the human embryonic stem cells.

Stem cells promise hope of a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes in the future.

Singapore is striving to be a hub for biotechnological research, especially stem cell research.

08/05/02 01:51 EDT