MIT researchers wanted to see if the human stem cells could survive on the synthetic surface.
Indeed, the cells did grow on the surface. The colorful human embryonic stem cells you see here are proof of that.
The middle and bottom layers in this picture reveal thriving human pluripotent stem cells (which are cells that can be grown for possible treatments for diseases such as Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis).
It turns out, the cells grew quite well on the synthetic surface. The cells flourished for three months.
It's a big deal because this is the first surface that researchers have been able to grow single cells into identical colonies, report the scientists. The researchers essentially grew millions of identical cells!
The current method of using a plastic dish with a layer of gelatin and animal cells is not nearly as efficient as this new one. Not to mention, the foreign animal material would probably trigger an immune response in human patients. The new surface side steps that problem all together.
The development could open up new therapeutic treatments for patients with spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, among others.
Image courtesy of Y. Mei, K. Saha, R. Langer, R. Jaenisch, and D. G. Anderson