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Scripps Research scientists develop new test for 'pluripotent' stem cells
Date:3/6/2011

LA JOLLA, CA "Pluripotent" stem cellswhich have the potential to mature into almost any cell in the bodyare being widely studied for their role in treating a vast array of human diseases and for generating cells and tissues for transplantation. Now, a team of Scripps Research Institute scientists has created a quality control diagnostic test that will make it much easier for researchers to determine whether their cell lines are normal pluripotent cells.

The study was published in an online version of Nature Methods on March 6, 2011.

"Many scientists are unhappy with the current gold standard for testing for pluripotency, called the teratoma assay," said Scripps Research molecular biologist Jeanne Loring, principal investigator of the study. "The teratoma assay requires animal testing and a time span of six to eight weeks before scientists can prove that they have a pluripotent stem cell line. In addition, this method is technically challenging and difficult to standardize."

The new test, called "PluriTest," meets the need for a cost-effective, accurate, animal-free alternative to the teratoma assay for assessing pluripotency. Using microarray technology, which enables the simultaneous analysis of thousands of different DNA sequences, the Scripps Research team created a large database of information about all the genes that are active in hundreds of normal human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells and a variety of non-pluripotent cell lines. For PluriTest, this database was used to create a detailed molecular model of a normal pluripotent stem cell line.

"Unlike diagnostic tests that use small sets of biomarkers to examine cells, the molecular model approach uses all of the thousands of pieces of information in a microarray," Loring said. "This results in a diagnostic test with remarkable sensitivity and specificity." Scientists upload raw data straight from a single microarray analysis to the PluriTest websi
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Contact: Mika Ono
mikaono@scripps.edu
858-784-2052
Scripps Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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