Friday, November 09, 2007

When one of my cultures die, I die a little inside, too.

Scientists construct a stem cell scaffold from seaweed products.

Now, as compared to yesterday's antics, this kind of technology is taking a credible step towards legitimate therapeutic applications. Stem cells in culture are notoriously picky; they typically like to be fed only from one side, need to have their media changed routinely and need to be grown on special membrane substrates. Ostensibly, this presents a problem in the body, where such furnishings are unlikely to be found. An inert scaffold presents its own problems - what happens when you need to take the construction equipment out after everything has grown over?

Ashton, created the device from a material known as alginate. Alginate is a complex carbohydrate found naturally in brown seaweed. When mixed with calcium, alginate gels into a rigid, three-dimensional mesh.

This is a real clever synergy of biochemistry, materials science and engineering. I'd call it the great grandson of the modern disposable diaper, another life saving invention.

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