A novel stem cell growth factor - Tasmanian devil leukaemia inhibitory factor

Technology description

La Trobe University researchers have discovered, synthesized and tested a new bioactive stem cell growth factor called shLIF, which is capable of inhibiting mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) differentiation. This growth factor activity is essential for laboratory culture of embryonic stem cells, which can only be propagated when differentiation is inhibited. Embryonic stem cell research is an exciting new medical research field that promises to deliver cell-based therapies for currently incurable diseases such as diabetes, heart failure, kidney failure, Parkinson's disease, spinal injury, and many more.

This recently discovered growth factor is an ortholog of mouse Leukaemia Inhibitory Factor, derived from the genome sequence of the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus Harisii). The shLIF growth factor is more potent than the commercially available mouse leukaemia inhibitory factor (mLIF) that is in common use today.

Key benefits

  • Bioactive shLIF can be produced from eukaryotic or E.coli cells
    • E. coli cell production will facilitate large scale production of the protein due to the fast growth speed and low cost of growth media for these cells. The conditions for producing a bioactive shLIF molecule in E. coli have been optimized and are available with the licence of this technology.
    • Eukaryotic cell production will allow production of the shLIF peptide with the post-translational modifications, such as glycosylation, and folding that naturally occur maintained.
  • shLIF has a high bioactivity in mES (mammalian embryonic stem) cells. The potency of shLIF in inhibiting mES cell differentiation is about 25% greater than mLIF.
    • Therefore, in comparison to the commercially available mLIF, less product will be required in order to block stem cell differentiation, meaning reduced stem cell culture costs.
    • This would also mean a cheaper, yet more potent, LIF molecule as a possible therapeutic agent.
  • shLIF inhibits embryonic stem cell differentiation, thus promoting pluripotency (the ability of a cell to develop in to any cell type) of long-term cell cultures by suppressing spontaneous differentiation. This facilitates the long-term maintenance of these cells.
  • shLIF activates the LIFR-gp130-STAT3 signalling pathway, which regulates cellular processes including cell growth, immunity and apoptosis Therefore, bioactive shLIF may have additional value as a molecular tool in the research of this pathway in these processes, or as a therapeutic intervention for associated diseases.


  • Cell culture
    • Mouse LIF replacement in embryonic stem cell culture.
    • Human neural stem cell (neurosphere) culture supplement.
    • Human ES cell growth supplement.
  • Therapeutic and diagnostic tools
    • Infertility therapeutic or birth control.
    • Stimulates neural repair in neurodegenerative disease or nerve damage.
    • Diagnostic reagent in humans and other species.
  • Research and Development
    • Establishment and propagation of stem cell lines of endangered (marsupial) and commercially valuable (livestock, companion animals) species.

The opportunity

This technology is available at no cost as an Easy Access Licence to companies and individuals.

For more information contact the Project Manager:

Caroline Bathje    
Senior Commercialisation Officer
E: c.bathje@latrobe.edu.au
Ref: TEC2012/141

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