Stem Cell Culture: Optimizing Amidst the Complexity
Stem cell cultures are presently necessary to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms of stem cell biology, to perform pharmacology and toxicology screenings and to provide the material required for regenerative therapies. Hence, optimizing stem cell culture conditions is currently a major challenge in stem cell research. Stem cell culture conditions will never capture the extraordinary complexity of the stem cell niche. Stem cell culture must be viewed as a tool for which the living cell is the material. However, we must also keep in mind that cell culture converts stem cells themselves into tools for basic research or regenerative therapies. Therefore, optimal stem cell culture conditions must be defined according to the endpoint of the culture. Instructing stem cells not necessarily by mimicking the stem cell niche biology but by using artificial, well-controlled and reproducible devices is a realistic aim for the cell culturist. This in turn requires well-defined experimental conditions and real-time probing of the cultured cell environment. Suspension culture in controllable bioreactors is the method of choice for stem cell cultures intended for a final clinical or industrial use whereas microfluidic systems are better designed for dissecting the molecular mechanisms founding stemness. Not only the cell culture medium but also the chemistry, the physical properties and the topography of cell culture substrates are able to modulate stem cell self-renewal and to control stem cell fate. Hence, the design of surface-engineered substrates is the subject of intense and fruitful research. Finally, not only preserving the self-renewal and differentiation potential of stem cells in culture but also preserving their genetic integrity is mandatory.
KeywordsStem Cell Microfluidic Chip Microfluidic System Stem Cell Niche Glucose Sensor
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