Research Highlights

Silk-based membrane purifies bone-forming stem cells

Published online 10 March 2014

Biplab Das

For therapeutic purposes, human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs) usually found in fat tissues need to be purified from contaminating cells such as adipose cells and other cell types.

A research team from National Central University, Taiwan, and King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, has recently developed a fast and simple technique that can separate hADSCs using a type of porous hybrid membranes made from silk screen and polylactide-co-glycolic acid. The team published their results in Biomaterials1.

The researchers passed hADSCs from human primary adipose tissue cell solution through the hybrid membranes at 25°C with a filtration rate of 1 ml min–1. The hADSCs then preferentially permeated through the hybrid membranes, which trapped adipose cells and other cell types.

The process of purification of hADSCs could be controlled by altering the chemical structure of the constituent polymer or the pore sizes of the hybrid membranes.

The hybrid membrane-based filtration method purified hADSCs in less than 30 minutes, whereas conventional methods required 5 to 12 days.

In addition, the hybrid-membrane-purified hADSCs could differentiate into osteoblasts, a type of bone-forming cells. These stem cells also exhibited increased expression of osterix, a marker gene that signals growth of osteoblasts.

"The hybrid membranes will allow simple and rapid purification of hADSCs, facilitating the clinical application of stem cell therapies using hADSCs," says Akon Higuchi, a senior author of the study.


  1. Chen, D.-C. et al. Purification of human adipose-derived stem cells from fat tissues using PLGA/silk screen hybrid membranes. Biomaterials 35, 4278-4287 (2014) | Article |