Harvard Scientists Suggest Stem Cell Screening to Reduce Cancer Risk on Transplant Patients [Video]


Transplant tissues from pluripotent stem cells have the potential to treat intractable disorders like Parkinson's disease and diabetes. But new research from Harvard found that stem cell grown in lab can acquire mutations. The finding suggests stem cell screening to make sure regenerative transplant treatment is safe for the patients.

Researchers from the Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), along with the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard discovered that stem cells cultivated in a lab dish often get mutations in the TP53 gene, Eureka Alert reported. The TP53 gene is a tumor suppressor that controls cell growth and division. This finding means there is a need to screen stem cells using genetic sequencing technologies to find mutated cells and exclude them from experiments and therapies.
If these stem cells are not screened properly and the mutated cells are still present patients receiving the transplant will have higher risk for cancer. The study was published in the online journal "Nature" on 26, April, which is just in time as the country is ramping up the use of human pluripotent stem cells, Science Daily reported.

Stanley Center director of stem cell biology and HSCI Principal Faculty member Kevin Eggan said the results emphasises how important it is for the regenerative medicine industry to be extra careful. The lab in Harvard University's Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology handled by Eggan uses stem cell to experiment and observe brain disorders, like schizophrenia amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and intellectual disability.

The research team from Harvard does not discourage experimental treatments, but instead should be done with much caution and rigorous screening. All cell lines are prone to mutations at certain stages, even right before transplantation. Eggan also pointed out that more quality control checks should be done during the cultivation of stem cells.

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