Monday, February 22, 2016

Cancer and Stem Cells: A Look at the Safety of iPS cells

The safety of reprogrammed adult stem cells was much in the news during the past few days as a result of work at the Scripps Research Institute that was funded by California’s $3 billion stem cell agency.

The press release from Scripps triggered a spate of stories quoting Jeanne Loring, who led the work. The Scripps release said,
“A new study led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) shows that the act of creating pluripotent stem cells for clinical use is unlikely to pass on cancer-causing mutations to patients.
“The research, published February 19, 2016, in the journal Nature Communications, is an important step in assessing patient safety in the rapidly developing field of stem cell therapies.”
The stem cell agency took a deep dive into the research today on its blog, The Stem Cellar, by Karen Ring, a former stem cell researcher who is the agency’s web site and social media manager. Ring wrote,
“It’s good news that reprogramming methods are relatively safe, but the fact that maintaining and expanding iPS cells in culture causes cancerous mutations is still a major issue that scientists need to address.
“Jeanne Loring recognizes this important issue and says that the next steps are to use similar genomic analyses to assess the safety of reprogrammed iPS cells before they are used in patients.”
Scripps’ press release reported that funds from five different stem cell agency grants were used in the research. Additional funds were also provided by a variety of sources.
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