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Hebrew University research carries cautionary warning for future stem cell applications
Date:11/22/2010

Jerusalem, November 21, 2010 Research work carried out at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem arouses a cautionary warning in the growing field of the development of stem cells as a means for future treatment of patients through replacement of diseased or damaged tissues by using the patient's own stem cells. The research indicates a possible danger of cancerous tissue development in the use of such cells.

Embryonic stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells, have the potential to develop into all cell types of the adult body, and thousands of researchers all over the world are working to develop the techniques which will make possible their eventual application.

Research in the field has been carried out initially using embryonic stem cells taken from human embryos. However, a breakthrough occurred when, a number of years ago, Japanese scientists succeeded in creating embryonic-like stem cells from mature human cells through an induced "reprogramming" process. This made it possible to obtain stem cells from a patient which can be used in his or her own treatment, thus avoiding the possibility of cell rejection. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.

In order for stem cells to be used in the clinic, however, they must be raised in cultures for an extended period. During this period, it has been observed that embryonic stems cells underwent chromosomal changes, which included changes that characterize cancerous tumor growth.

Research that has been carried out in the laboratory headed by Nissm Benvenisty, the Herbert Cohn Professor of Cancer Research at the Silberman Institute of Life Sciences at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has now shown that the iPS cells also undergo abnormal chromosomal changes in culture.

Prof. Benvenisty, together with his post-doctoral fellow Yoav Mayshar and his doctoral student Uri Ben-David, developed a new analytical method for determining the genetic str
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Contact: Jerry Barach
jerryb@savion.huji.ac.il
972-258-82904
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Source:Eurekalert  

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