Embryonic Stem Cells Survive Freezing

Even after 18 years of frozen storage, human embryos can still produce viable stem cells for drug screening and biomedical research.

By | August 16, 2012

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Cryopreservation of embryos in fertility centers is common, and concerns over damage to the embryo during thawing were largely allayed by the birth of a healthy boy in 2010 from 20-year old cryopreserved embryo. Last week (August 10), researchers in Thailand reported in BioResearch Open Access that they successfully induced the growth of stem cells from a set of 17- and 18-year-old frozen embryos.

The embryos were thawed, then cultured to the blastocyst stage and co-cultured with human foreskin fibroblasts which acted as feeder cells to maintain the growth of embryonic stem cells. The team used the same method to induce stem cells to grow from fresh embryos for comparison, and in cells from both sources they found similar levels of pluripotency.

“The importance of this study is that it identifies an alternative source for generating new embryonic stem lines, using embryos that have been in long-term storage,” BioResearch Open Access Editor-in-Chief Jane Taylor told Asian News International.

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