Brown University scientists have found a more efficient way to identify potential bone-producing cells from human fat tissue, according to a new study in Stem Cell Research & Therapy. The researchers developed a fluorescent tag that latches onto cells that express a gene called ALPL, which is an indicator of increased osteogenic potential. A machine then detects the fluorescing light and separates the ALPL cells. According to the study, this new method produces more than twice the yield of bone-making cells (9 percent) compared to previous methods of sorting based on cell-surface proteins. Researchers found that the ALPL-positive cells also showed increases in metabolite production for chondrogenesis.
Hetal Marble, lead author of the study, said in a Brown University press release that targeting gene expression rather than surface proteins in the search for cells capable of making new tissue is a “paradigm shift” that “allow[s] us to isolate cells that are capable of doing what we want.” To read the full press release, click here: https://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/10/sorting.