WARF: P05144US

Methods of Finding, Selecting and Studying Cells in Heterogeneous Co-Cultures


David Beebe, Hongmei Yu, Caroline Alexander

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a method of co-culturing heterogeneous primary cells, such as stem cells.
OVERVIEWCurrent methods for isolating and culturing primary (stem/progenitor) cells remain unsatisfactory because most primary cells die when transferred to culture, and the remaining cells usually develop mutations rendering them unfit for an in vivo environment.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed a method of co-culturing heterogeneous primary cells. The cells are cultured in a very small, convection-free space, such as a microchannel, so they behave more as they would in vivo. Because there is no fluid flow, all movement of components in the environment is by diffusion. The culture contains at least one growth-promoting cell and at least one cell capable of proliferating.
  • Drug screening
  • Isolation, purification and/or identification of stem or progenitor cells
  • Study of autocrine and paracrine regulation
  • Provides the ability to precisely direct and evaluate physical, chemical and biological interactions between cells and other factors in a controlled environment
  • Physically constrains the diffusion of soluble factors, allowing cells to more closely imitate the in vivo environment
  • Cells can come from a single source or from multiple sources
  • Heterogeneous cells can be in cell-to-cell contact or spaced apart
  • Uniquely enables the study of stem cells by avoiding problems associated with stem cell assays in standard tissue culture
  • Avoids need for costly and time-consuming transplantation of cultured cells into a host to determine whether proliferation is occurring in a culture
  • Molecular gradients of test agents or compounds can be established in the microenvironment
  • May be used to determine the effect of a cancer treatment on proliferative capacity of an affected tissue
For More Information About the Inventors
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jeanine Burmania at or 608-960-9846.
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