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Stanford/Yale study gives insight into subtle genomic differences among our own cells
Date:11/18/2012

skin can be produced in a laboratory dish so scientists can learn more about that particular patient's condition and to screen drugs that might treat it. Tomorrow, perhaps, such cells could be administered to that patient to restore heart health without being perceived as foreign tissue by the patient's immune system, which would otherwise reject the implanted cells.

However, Urban said, several previous studies have raised worries regarding iPS cells' genomic stability. Whether it was the reprogramming procedure researchers use to convert ordinary adult cells into iPS cells or the culturing techniques employed to keep them alive and thriving afterward, something appeared to be inducing an upswing in these cells' manifestation of copy number variations, or CNVs the disappearance or duplication of chunks of genetic material at specific locations along the vast stretches of DNA that coil to form the chromosomes residing in all human cells.

CNVs dot everybody's genomes. They occur naturally because of DNA-copying errors made during cell replication, and accumulate in our genomes over evolutionary time. The human genome, taken as a whole, is a DNA sequence consisting of four varieties of chemical units, strung together like beads on a roughly 3-billion-bead-long necklace. CNVs range in length from under 1,000 DNA units to several million. They account for up to several percent of the entire human genome, making them a major source of genetic differences between people.

But if either iPS cells' mode of generation or their subsequent maintenance in culture were promoting an increase in CNVs, it would seriously compromise these cells' utility in research and pose a fatal flaw to their use in regenerative medicine, said Urban. "You would never want to introduce iPS cells into a patient thinking that these cells had the same genome as the rest of the patient's cells, when in fact they had undergone substantial genetic modifications you knew nothin
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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