Courtesy of Jong-Hoon Kim & Ron McKay, NIH

A human embryonic stem cell starter panel that allows for the in vitro expansion of human ESCs is now available from Minneapolis-based R&D Systems http://www.rndsystems.com. The kit contains human FGF basic protein, antibodies to Oct-3/4, stage-specific embryonic antigen (SSEA)-4, and alkaline phosphatase to monitor the cells' differentiation status.

"The biggest plus as well as the biggest problem with ESCs is that they are multipotential and can differentiate into a bewildering variety of cells," says Mahendra Rao, section chief of the Stem Cell Biology Unit, Laboratory of Neurosciences, National Institute on Aging. According to Rao, the antibodies included in the kit will provide a simple, reliable way to profile the state of the cells. He adds, "Markers of this type that are quality tested on human cells have not been available, and I believe that such reagents will be very popular."


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