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Science

Using monkey cells, SNBL seeks research contracts with drugmakers

TOKYO -- Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories (SNBL), a company that provides preclinical services for drugmakers and research institutions, has begun to look into creating STAP cells from monkey cells.

   STAP cells are pluripotent stem cells created by subjecting mature cells to stress, such as exposure to a mild acid bath. STAP is short for stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency. Haruko Obokata discovered and developed the technique using mouse cells as head of a research team at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology.

   Like iPS cells, STAP cells have the ability to differentiate into all the specialized cells in the body, so they hold tremendous promise for applications in regenerative medicine. What sets STAP cells apart is that they are more efficient and far easier to make than iPS cells, which require genetic manipulation.

   To be effective in regenerative medicine, the STAP cells will need to be made from human cells, but the next step will be to determine whether the technology works with monkey cells.

   As research institutions and pharmaceutical companies around the world gear up to find uses for monkey STAP cells, SNBL expects to broaden its business to include preclinical research services in this field. Bearing that in mind, the firm will apply the skills and techniques it accumulated through studying dental pulp stem cells and iPS cells to the creation of monkey STAP cells.

   The company will investigate whether the monkey-derived cells can be created using the same stressors the Obokata team used on mice, along with testing other triggers.

(Nikkei)

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