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Improved Stem Cell Line May Avoid Tumor Risk: Study
Date:4/5/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Developing stem cell lines that don't have cells that potentially grow into tumors has been one of the biggest challenges for stem cell therapies.

But researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have generated a new line of stem cells that may solve that problem, at least for stem cells destined for the digestive system or possibly the lungs.

"The most significant use short-term will be for disease modeling. We've had to rely on mouse models, but we're different than mice. A model with human cells could be very powerful," said the study's senior author, Paul Gadue, an assistant professor in the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at the hospital's Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics.

In the far future, he added, these stem cells could potentially be used as therapies for diseases such as diabetes or liver disease.

For the current research, the scientists used embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells. Embryonic stem cells are derived from human embryos, often unused embryos from fertility treatments that are donated for research. Induced pluripotent stem cells are genetically engineered from other human cells, such as skin cells or blood cells. Both of these stem cell types can give rise to tumors.

"One of the big issues that's critical when you think about potentially transplanting embryonic stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells is that you have to make sure there are no undifferentiated cells in that batch, because undifferentiated cells can form tumors called teratomas," said Gadue.

By stalling the development of these cells at what's called the endodermal stage, the researchers found that the cells no longer created teratomas. The endoderm is the innermost layer of cells found in an early embryo that eventually develop into the lining of the digestive and resp
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