News / 16 August 2017

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent stem cells that can self-renew and have the potential to become any cell type found in the body.

Human iPS and ESC cells are fundamental in regenerative medicine research, particularly understanding what makes a cell have this potential and being able to classify them easily.

Associate Professor Andrew Laslett’s Group at ARMI is focussed on investigating the biology of human pluripotent stem cell lines, including human ESC and iPSC.

Thanks to the Laslett Group, the study and application of human embryonic stem cells has recently been advanced by the availability of new antibodies which can easily determine which cells in a cell population are pluripotent.

Andrew Laslett headshot

For researchers, these antibodies don’t just determine if the population of cells they’re working on are pluripotent, but more specifically what percentage are pluripotent within that population.

“The main advantage is that compared to other antibodies, of which there is quite a limited pool, mostly we don’t know the gene that encodes the protein that the antibodies detect – meaning we have been working with tools that are not fully understood,” said A/Prof Laslett. “However, we know the protein that these antibodies detect which makes them a useful tool.”

The older antibodies are a form called IgM and are stickier and harder to work with, whereas these newer ones developed by the Laslett group are a form known as IgG, which are smaller and easier to work with.  

“Further comprehension of human pluripotent stem cell lines will lead to the development of new tools, and novel cell lines that will be required for the safe use of these cell types in future cell-based industries".

“This is important because although there is a huge potential for the treatment of diseases and injuries, a number of risks are also created when producing cell populations to be used for cell therapy.”

He and his team have made four new monoclonal antibodies that are now exclusively available through the antibody portfolio at Thermo Fisher Scientific: Desmoglein2, P-Cadherin, CD318 and CD321. These clones are capable of detecting human pluripotent stem cells in their undifferentiated state. These antibodies detect proteins on the cell surface of hPSCs and are highly useful for immunofluorescent staining and for flow cytometric analysis and sorting.

To date seven new monoclonal antibodies have been licensed, four have been launched, with the other three to come.

This work was published in the March 2017 issue of Stem Cells, CSIRO, Scripps Research Institute, UCLA, Monash University and WEHI were all collaborators on the project.

Andrew Laslett and his group are employed by CSIRO and hold adjunct appointments with ARMI.