Stem cell populations may be expanded ex vivo in serum-free or serum-reduced nutrient formulations with minimal differentiation. Stem cell culture applications are at various stages of maturity. For embryonic stem (ES) cells, the goal is to define optimal osmolality, feeder requirements, and media formulation for culturing primate ES cells to identify and elucidate signaling pathways for pluripotency and differentiation. For neural stem cells, the goal is to standardize culture strategies to translate research findings into cell therapy applications. Closer to clinical trials, mesenchymal stem cells require serum-free systems to promote expansion and differentiation into desired cell types. For hematopoietic stem cells used in cell-based cancer therapy, the drive is to eliminate animal origin components from the expansion and maturation medium and to explore more efficient methods of signal pathway induction.

Optimized formulations have been developed that may be preferentially used for specific stem cell culture applications:

• KnockOut formulations reduced variability of murine & human embryonic stem cell expansion and differentiation.

• Iterative improvement of nutrient media enhanced generation of neural stem cell populations.

• Advanced Media reduced serum requirements for plating and maintaining mesenchymal stem cells.

• Modified or supplemented AIM-V increased its utility for T-cell or dendritic cell-based immunotherapy applications.

Additional effort is required to eliminate medium constituents of animal origin and to design a reproducible, biochemically-defined nutrient environment to address technical and regulatory requirements for proposed stem cell-based therapies.

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