New Study Shows Safer Methods for Stem Cell Culturing

Posted: February 26, 2015 at 2:54 am

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Newswise LA JOLLA, CA February 25, 2015 A new study led by researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the University of California (UC), San Diego School of Medicine shows that certain stem cell culture methods are associated with increased DNA mutations. The study points researchers toward safer and more robust methods of growing stem cells to treat disease and injury.

This is about quality control; were making sure these cells are safe and effective, said Jeanne Loring, a professor of developmental neurobiology at TSRI and senior author of the study with Louise Laurent, assistant professor at UC San Diego.

Laurent added, The processes used to maintain and expand stem cell cultures for cell replacement therapies needs to be improved, and the resulting cells carefully tested before use.

The findings were published February 25 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Growing Stem Cells

Because these human stem cells, called "pluripotent stem cells," can differentiate into many types of cells, they could be key to reversing degenerative diseases, such as Parkinsons disease, or repairing injured tissue, such as cardiac muscle after a heart attack. Stem cells are relatively rare in the body, however, so researchers must culture them in dishes.

While all cells run the risk of mutating when they divide, previous research from Loring and her colleagues suggested that stem cell culturing may select for mutations that favor faster cell growth and are sometimes associated with tumors.

Most changes will not compromise the safety of the cells for therapy, but we need to monitor the cultures so that we know what sorts of changes take place, said the papers first author Ibon Garitaonandia, a postdoctoral researcher working in Lorings lab at the time of the study.

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New Study Shows Safer Methods for Stem Cell Culturing

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