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Laminins: Advancing Research

September 11th, 2014

A quick search online and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Laminins have some sort of religious significance, as the majority of the top search results make a connection between the cross shape of this useful protein and the Christian Cross.

Of course, this isn’t true, but after searching for the science, what does the information tell us about laminins?

This protein is present in the make-up of the basement membrane, which is a layer of protein found supporting cells in most of the body. This includes skin cells, lining cells and the cells of organs.

Laminin is involved in a range of processes vital to normal function at the cellular level, including development of the embryo, the healing of wounds, cell migration and differentiation, and cell adhesion.

There are at the minimum twelve isoforms that have been discovered so far, and the type of laminin will determine its role in cellular-level processes. For example, types 5, 8 and 10 can be found in the lining of blood vessels, so their function will be different to that of type 1, which mostly influences interactions in epithelial cells.

Now that we have more information on laminins, we can move on to the recent scientific breakthroughs regarding this protein that will help in cell culture research, amongst other things.

Advancements in Cell Culturing

There are two types of laminin protein that have been used in the advancement of culturing cells, which are normally difficult to culture using other substrates. These are laminin-111 and a combination of laminin-511 and 521, which are extracted from mouse sarcomas and human placenta, respectively.

Before, the problem posed by scientists was that it was very difficult to extract these isoforms from tissues due to cross-linking and the conditions required for extraction, such as a low pH.

This is where BioLamina comes in, a company that distributes, manufactures and develops reagents involved in the culture of cells. The problem of extraction was overcome by professor Tryggvasion – BioLamina’s founder – and his group by using human embryonic kidney cells to manufacture recombinant laminins, which allowed in vitro testing.

After this, it was only a matter of time before recombinant laminin would prove its usefulness. Indeed, in 2008 it was shown that stem cell could be grown on laminin for months at a time.

Today, BioLamina offers these recombinant laminins in the culture of stem cells and stands as the original and the first company to offer recombinant, full length laminins.