Recently published experimental data have already demonstrated that xenogenic co-culture of different adult stem cell populations with rat brain biopsies induces neuronal differentiation of the stem cells, enabled by the release of growth factors by both stem cells and brain cells (1). In addition, the co-culture was found to cause an increased release of immunomodulatory and angiogenic cytokines by the stem cells. This is beneficial in the context of cell-based therapeutic strategies, as the transplanted cells can expedite wound healing and/or angiogenesis.
An adaptation of the system to other tissue and cell types is principally possible, although each new tissue requires additional development and adjustment steps. Numerous techniques, methods, and tools have been developed for this at the Fraunhofer EMB and, thanks to many years of experience, scientists of this research institution have managed to successfully culture even critical tissue and organs, such as heart and liver. Furthermore, besides stem and progenitor cells they can meanwhile cryoconserve also tissue samples (e.g. skin), so that the availability of these systems can be guaranteed independently of the delivery of donor tissue.
These co-culture models thus offer possibilities for analysis and evaluation that may give valuable insights both in basic research and in the development of innovative cell-based clinical applications.
(1) Petschnik AE, Fell B, Tiede S, Habermann JK, Pries R, Kruse C, Danner S. A novel xenogenic co-culture system to examine neuronal differentiation capability of various adult human stem cells. PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24944.