The scientists made the claim in a new paper that describes how the protein - Inter-alpha inhibitor - allows cells to attach to the plastic surfaces of culture vessels directly rather than via a substrate, which is the most commonly used approach.
Lead author Sara Pijuan-Galitó told us "this new method could reduce cost, time and difficulties in automated and large-scale culture methods for human pluripotent stem cells."
She added that "we do not have an estimate on the cost reduction yet, but we are currently contacting pharmaceutical companies to generate quotes for the cost of Inter-alpha inhibitor.
"With this paper published we hope to raise interest in this human blood-derived protein and its effects on cell attachment and growth.
"The key feature of this method is its simplicity, making automated cell culture much faster, easier and cost-effective. Moreover, this method also shows improved survival in harsh conditions, therefore achieving higher recovery rates."
The plan now is to combine the protein with hydrogel technology to develop differentiation control methods according to co-author Cathy Merry. She predicted that, in addition to facilitating industrial stem cell production, the approach will aid disease research.
“This will help research into many diseases but our focus is on understanding rare conditions like Multiple Osteochondroma at the cellular level.
“Our aim is to replicate the three dimensional environment that cells experience in the body so that our lab-bench biology is more accurate in modelling diseases."
The research was co-funded by GE Healthcare.
Source: Nature Communications
Title: Human serum-derived protein removes the need for coating in defined human pluripotent stem cell culture
Author: Sara Pijuan-Galitó et al