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Genzyme Study Highlights Potential of Adult Stem Cells in Tissue Engineering
Monday October 28, 9:03 am ET
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire

Genzyme Biosurgery, a division of Genzyme Corporation, today announced the publication of a research paper that casts new light on the nature of adult stem cells. In a paper published in the Oct. 28 issue of Tissue Engineering, scientists in Genzyme's Stem Cell Biology Research Laboratory demonstrate that many adult stem cells that have been claimed to be unique are actually "virtually indistinguishable" from one another in the laboratory, sharing many of the same physical and functional properties. The finding helps to clarify the many competing claims about the potential use of adult stem cells in a range of therapeutic applications.

In recent years, a growing number of researchers have reported that through a variety of proprietary methods they could generate cells with the potential to differentiate into a variety of specialized cell types, including nerve, cartilage, muscle, and endothelial cells. What has not been clear in these individual studies is whether the adult stem cells themselves are actually distinct, or whether they gained their distinction in the laboratory.

To help answer this question, Genzyme's study team systematically tested the approaches taken by various companies and laboratories. The Genzyme team isolated mesenchymal stem cells derived from the bone marrow of adults, and subjected them to a variety of the laboratories' research protocols used to develop cells capable of differentiating into nerve, cartilage, muscle, and endothelial cells. They found that regardless of the protocols used to isolate and propogate these cells, they were "virtually indistinguishable" from one another in several important ways. Each cell, for example, expressed the same or similar cell surface markers, or antigens. They also showed a common ability to undergo differentiation into nerve, cartilage, muscle, and endothelial cells based on culture conditions. The researchers concluded that although these stem cell populations were previously reported to be distinct from one another, on closer analysis they are not.

"We have shown that we can reproducibly isolate and propogate adult stem cells and demonstrate their potential to differentiate using a variety of methods," said Ross Tubo, PhD, director of Genzyme's Stem Cell Biology Research Laboratory. "These results give a strong indication that adult stem cells are robust and have great therapeutic potential for use in tissue regeneration. These findings help to clarify the complex and many times confusing literature surrounding adult stem cells."

Commenting on the findings of the Genzyme study, Dr. Diane Krause, associate professor of laboratory medicine at Yale University said: "The finding that these cells are very similar in their surface phenotype and their ability to differentiate into chondrocytes and neural-type cells helps us to make sense of the diverse literature in this field, paving the way for uniform isolation and propagation of mesenchymal stem cells for tissue engineering."

James Kelly