Shaken Not Stirred — Possible Method of Multiplying Embryonic Stem Cells

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 10, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Shaken Not Stirred — Possible Method of Multiplying Embryonic Stem Cells Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 10,

Atlanta, GA ( — Researchers have discovered a potential new method of multiplying embryonic stem cells that could allow scientists a greater ability to work with them without destroying as many human embryos for their cells. The surprising find mirrors what pro-life advocates already know — that an unborn baby’s development is a good thing.

A baby before birth spends a considerable amount of time moving around in her mother’s womb — especially when mom walks, run or exercises.

It’s not shock, then, that scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University found that shaking embryonic stem cells causes them to multiply.

The discovery occurred when Rich Carpenedo, a graduate student, discovered by chance that a dish of embryonic stem cells left on a common lab shaker (typically used to slowly mix samples) had developed in greater numbers and more uniformly than otherwise.

Current popular methods of developing embryonic stem cells in the lab involve single droplets of cells separated by a great deal of space in the dish.

Researchers experimented with the shaking plate and determined that they could consistently produce samples with healthier, more uniform cells just by gently sloshing the dishes of stem cells on a shaker plate.

Scientists at the two schools eventually determined that a moderate amount of movement of embryonic stem cells in fluid environments, similar to shaking that occurs in the womb, improves their development.

They published the results of their study in the September issue of the journal Stem Cells.

“Embryonic stem cells develop under unique conditions in the womb, and no one has ever been able to study the effect that movement has on that development process,” said Todd McDevitt, a professor and head of the project.

While pro-life advocates oppose embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of human life, the study shows scientists could obtain more cells of a better quality without having to destroy as many human lives in the process.