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No free stem cell lunch…

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Interesting article today published in the journal Stem Cells. You’ve likely heard al ot about how normal skin or other somatic cells can be “de-differentiated” or reverted back to embryonic like stem cells or other stem cell types by adding in either new genes or treating the cells with certain chemicals.  This morning the journal Stem Cells reports on nerve cells treated this way with a specific growth factor and then placed under stress.  The low level radiation stress didn’t negatively impact the normal nerve cells before treatment.  However, the de-differentiated nerve stem cells (the ones created by the experiment) turned cancerous.  This makes sense, as causing a cell not meant to be a stem cell to go backwards in it’s evolution may be how some cancers get started.  Similar data has been obtained on adult stem cells cultured for minimal periods and the risk of cancer transformation has been minimal.  Our follow-up data would also support this is the case.  The upshot,the IPS concept ( Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells) has a way to go before it can be a safe treatment.

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