The availability of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) reflects their outstanding potential for research areas such as human developmental biology, teratology, and cell-based therapies. To allow their continuous growth as undifferentiated cells, isolation and culturing were traditionally conducted on mouse embryonic fibroblast feeder layers, using medium supplemented with fetal bovine serum. However, these conditions allow possible exposure of the cells to animal pathogens. Because both research and future clinical application require an animal-free and well-defined culture system for hESCs, these conventional conditions would prevent the use of hESCs in human therapy. This chapter describes optional culture conditions based on either animal-free or feeder-free culture methods for hESCs.
Key Words: Embryonic stem cells; foreskin fibroblasts; transforming growth factor-P1; basic fibroblast growth factor; leukemia inhibitory factor; fibronectin.
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