April 24, 2024

Reprogrammed stem cells can have mutations

Adult stem cells may be in some doubt

Adult cells that have been reprogrammed into stem cells may harbour genetic mutations, some of them cancerous. In two studies published last week in Nature, researchers analysed the genome of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells – adult cells that have been chemically or genetically converted back to the stem cell state. These cells have drawn intense interest from scientists and the public alike as a potential alternative to embryonic stem cells. iPS cells, like embryonic stem cells, can develop into any type of tissue, making them a strong candidate for cell-replacement therapies. They are also a genetic match to the patient and won’t be rejected.

“As we think about using [these] cells for therapy, we will want to consider what kinds of screening tests we want to do,” says Lawrence Goldstein, a specialist in embryonic stem cells. One of the major concerns about stem-cell-based therapies has been whether they carry a risk of cancer – both stem cells and cancer cells are set apart by their ability to continually divide.

It is unclear why iPS cells have such a high mutation rate. Researchers discovered that roughly half the mutations occurred before reprogramming and could be found in a few cells in the initial population from which the iPS cells were derived. Others may have occurred during the reprogramming process or while the newly formed iPS cells were growing. The researchers are now preparing to conduct similar tests on embryonic stem cells. ~ Technology Review, Mar 3

Reprogrammed stem cells can have mutations
Jared Yee
adult stem cells
stem cells