From UWA: “Researchers uncover new way of growing stem cells”

UWA

University of Western Australia

16 May 2017
David Stacey
UWA Media and Public Relations Manager
(+61 8) 6488 3229
(+61 4) 32 637 716

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Dr Yu Suk Choi

Research led by The University of Western Australia has discovered a new, simple and less expensive way of growing human stem cells.

Using hydrogel, a gel with a gradient that can be used to mimic the stiffness of human body tissues, the researchers were able to generate positive outcomes for the growth of stem cells.

Dr Yu Suk Choi from UWA’s School of Human Sciences at The University of Western Australia led the international collaboration which also included researchers from the University of California, San Diego (USA) and Max Planck Institute for Medical Research (Germany).

“Stem cells work by using the ‘stiffness’ of surrounding tissue as a gauge to identify the way they need to behave in a particular environment in the human body,” Dr Choi said.

“By using hydrogel to mimic the stiffness of tissue, we found we could ‘trick’ the stem cells into behaving in particular ways to help them grow and encourage the cells to behave in positive, regenerative ways.

“Hydrogel is simple and inexpensive to produce and could have a wide range of applications in biology labs that don’t always have the infrastructure available to use other methods to mimic the stiffness of tissue to aid stem cell growth.”

Dr Choi said the research may have important uses in combating serious illnesses affecting the human population.

“Many degenerative diseases result in changes to tissue stiffness which alters the behavior of cells,” he said.

“But by controlling tissue stiffness we can revert cell behavior back to normal, and change their behavior at the disease site into more regenerative behaviour. This will help us us to treat diseases such as cancer that are currently very difficult to treat.”

The next step for the researchers will be to use hydrogel with patient originated cells to further understand the effect of tissue stiffness on cell behaviour.

The research, published in the PNAS journal, has been made possible through funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Heart Research Australia.

See the full article here .

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uwa-campus

The University of Western Australia (UWA) is a research-intensive university in Perth, Australia that was established by an act of the Western Australian Parliament in February 1911, and began teaching students for the first time in 1913. It is the oldest university in the state of Western Australia. It is colloquially known as a “sandstone university”. It is also a member of the Group of Eight.

UWA was established under and is governed by the University of Western Australia Act 1911.[2] The Act provides for control and management by the university’s Senate, and gives it the authority, amongst other things, to make statutes, regulations and by-laws, details of which are contained in the university Calendar.[3]

UWA is highly ranked internationally in various publications: the 2015 QS World University Rankings[4] placed UWA at 98th internationally, and in August 2016 the Academic Ranking of World Universities from Shanghai Jiao Tong University placed the university at 96th in the world.[5] To date, the university has produced 100 Rhodes Scholars;[6] one Nobel Prize laureate[7] and one Australian Prime Minister.[8]

In 2010 UWA joined the Matariki Network of Universities as the youngest member, the only one established during the 20th century.

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