Students conduct stem cell research

February 11, 2014

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Stem cell research

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — University of Wisconsin-Platteville students in the Independent Research in Biology class will be conducting stem cell research this semester in conjunction with Madison College. Dr. Esther Ofulue, UW-Platteville biology professor, received a Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement grant for the class to fulfill a need that Madison College possesses.

The research included in the grant work is to produce recombinant vitronectin protein as a feeder layer for stem cells to grow on, as a replacement to the more commonly used mouse feeder cells.

“Stem cells have to grow on top of something. Mouse cells have been used so far,” said Ofulue. “However, no human patient would want to receive a human stem cell transplant knowing the risk of inadvertent contamination of the stem cells by mouse feeder cells.” 

UW-Platteville Independent Research students will be producing the more favorable proteins for both Madison College and their own stem cell research at UW-Platteville.

Currently, Madison College is doing large amounts of work with stem cells to train students and college educators. “They are creating other materials that will be used together with the protein and don’t have the time to manufacture the proteins, so they asked us to help,” said Ofulue. “We are primarily doing it for them so that they can move away from the animal feeder cell-based stem culture system as well.”

She says that students in her class will be conducting the research.  “Once all the components for manufacturing the protein are set up, we will be able to obtain a consistent and sustainable source of the protein,” said Ofulue. 

According to Ofulue, there is potential to share the protein samples with other researchers in exchange for research needs at UW-Platteville, thus reducing costs for UW-Platteville. She added that the partnership with Madison College will strengthen the articulation agreement with them for post-baccalaureate and certification programs in biotechnology and stem cell technologies.

The stem cell research experience also offers many benefits to the students involved. Ofulue says this class will empower students to take the lead in their own research project from start to finish on their own time. This is something that undergraduates don’t often have the opportunity to do and will create a competitive advantage for them in the job market. 

Contact: Dr. Esther Ofulue, biology department, (608) 342-1331, ofueluee@uwplatt.edu
Written by: Jessica Mueller, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, muellerjes@uwplatt.edu

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