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2008/02/18 09:45 KST
Stem cells safety made into nerve tissues

   SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korean scientists on Monday said they have successfully used nano and bio technologies to grow nerve, muscle and liver tissues from stem cells.

   The discovery made by a team led by Park Se-pill, a life engineering professor at Cheju National University, used magnetized nano particles to insert genes into stem cells of laboratory animals that differentiated into specific tissues.

   The research published in the latest issue of the international Stem Cells and Development journal is noteworthy because it did not use the dangerous retrovirus or inefficient chemical-electrical techniques that are currently employed in these experiments.

   Retroviruses are used in so-called gene delivery systems, but they are believed to cause serious side effect since the tainted stem cells could trigger cancer and immune disorders. In the chemical-electrical technique a high percentage of genes are lost in the delivery process.

   Park's team, which includes researchers from Mirae Biotech Research Institute in Seoul and Konkuk University, said they used 20 nanometer particles that were combined with specific genes of laboratory mice and placed on top of a plate that emitted a magnetic field. This process allowed the genes to be safety mixed with stem cells and grown into nerve, muscle and liver tissues. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.

   Stem cell research may one day result in cures for numerous diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes and could help people suffering from paralysis caused by damaged vertebrae.
Park said the success rate using nano technology reached 45 percent, much higher than the 15 percent attained by the chemical-electrical technique.

   He added that in the 50 laboratory experiments conducted, all genes transplanted into the stem cells survived and grew into tissue.

   The team, meanwhile, said that while nanotechnology is used in cell research, its experiments were the first to use the technology to help differentiate stem cells.

   The technique has been submitted for patent protection.

   yonngong@yna.co.kr
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