India Scientists Create Embryonic Stem Cells Without Mouse Feeder Cells

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 12, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

India Scientists Create Embryonic Stem Cells Without Mouse Feeder Cells Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 12
, 2006

Mumbai, India ( — A scientist in India is one of the first scientists to have created embryonic stem cell lines without using mouse feeder cells to grow them. Indira Hinduja, who created the country’s first test-tube baby, used human feeder cells to grow the embryonic stem cell lines so they would not be contaminated.

Hinduja and IVF specialist Kusum Zaveri developed three human embryonic stem cell lines without using the contaminating cells to grow them as most researchers have done around the world.

Although embryonic stem cell research is nowhere close to being ready to help patients, and must still overcome rejection issues and other concerns, removing the cells from any connection with animal cells is a must for them to work.

"We have developed these three cell lines using the human feeder instead of mouse feeder as it is expected to be free from any retroviral infection or any viral infection," Hinduja told reporters today, according to a Chennai Online news report.

Using the human feeder cells to grow the lines will also help the embryonic stem cells to be able to be reimplanted up to 200 times as opposed to the limit of 75 times using mouse feeder cells.

Embryonic stem cells are normally maintained on mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEFs) feeder layers but the India announcement is the first from scientists saying they created embryonic stem cell lines without mouse feeder cells.

Dr. Robert Lanza of Massachusetts-based Advanced Cell Technology, a biotech firm which has come under intense scrutiny for false announcements about obtaining embryonic stem cells without destroying human embryos, claimed to have made mouse-free embryonic stem cells in march 2005.

"The science now exists to produce new lines that will be safe," he said at the time.

Lanza’s company worked with teams at the Harvard Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and published an article in the medical journal Lancet.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin claim to have been the first to get some of the embryonic stem cells separated from the mouse feeder cells.
ACT took this research a step further growing embryonic stem cells from scratch harvested by killing human embryos from fertility clinics.

However, Outi Hovatta of Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and Heli Skottman of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Finland’s University of Tampere said ACT’s cells still contained some animal cells and that the new methods hadn’t fully erased contamination concerns.