“Stem cells are unstable,” as Christopher Fasano, the Institute’s director of research and development, says. He explains that they need a constant supply of food and a substance called a “growth factor,” or they start developing into different types of body tissues on their own, and cease being useful to researchers.
Growth factor keeps stem cells stable, allowing researchers to control what types of tissues that the cells become, the phenomena researchers are trying to harness.
With traditional formulas, scientists would have to add a type of liquid called a cell culture to cells seven days a week. Cell culture is a soup broth-like substance containing the needed nutrients and growth factors. Fasano says that stem cell culture is very expensive, often representing as much as one-third of the costs of developing stem cells.
The Institute’s new innovation, called “StemBeads,” will help lower those costs. The beads slowly release growth factor to cells over the course of several days. This allows researchers to cut growth factor administration to two or three times per week, saving time and money, according to Fasano.
It isn’t an accident that stem cell research is taking place in the Capital Region. The presence of multiple research universities is only part of the reason that bioscience is developing here. Other reasons for scientific development in the area have less to do with science and more to do with cheaper real estate, good schools, and good quality of life that are present in the Capital Region, according to Temple.
She also believes that the favorable environment will likely encourage more research and development outfits to come to the Capital Region.