The University of Southampton
Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and RegenerationResearch themes

Isolating and characterising the skeleton's stem cell

A mesenchymal stem cell labelled with 2 (red and green) flourescent tags that could allow their isolation from the mix of cells present in the bone marrow.
Mesenchymal stem cell


The mesenchymal stem cell (MSCs) drives the formation of the skeleton during human development and imparts to adult bone its unique ability to remodel and regenerate. When isolated from the adult bone marrow in which it resides, these cells can be stimulated to form each of the key tissue types of the adult skeleton – bone, cartilage and fat.

Among the plethora of cells present in the bone marrow, MSCs are vanishingly rare however, and their isolation or enrichment is an ongoing challenge. We are investigating new approaches to isolate MSCs for characterisation and clinical application.

One key approach to cell separation is to label cells with fluorescent or magnetic tags on the basis of unique immunological properties to enable their separation using lasers or magnets. We are investigating approaches to characterise the unique fingerprint of MSCs that would allow us to apply this approach to isolate a pure MSC population.

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