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Stanford discovery may eliminate potentially lethal side effect of stem cell therapy
Date:8/14/2011

STANFORD, Calif. - Like fine chefs, scientists are seemingly approaching a day when they will be able to make nearly any type of tissue from human embryonic stem cells. You need nerves or pancreas, bone or skin? With the right combination of growth factors, skill and patience, a laboratory tissue culture dish promises to yield therapeutic wonders. But within these batches of newly generated cells lurks a big potential problem: Any remaining embryonic stem cells - those that haven't differentiated into the desired tissue - can go on to become dangerous tumors called teratomas when transplanted into patients.

Now researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a way to remove these pluripotent human embryonic stem cells from their progeny before the differentiated cells are used in humans. ("Pluripotent" describes cells that are able to become all types of adult tissue.)

"The ability to do regenerative medicine requires the complete removal of tumor-forming cells from any culture that began with pluripotent cells," said Irving Weissman, MD, director of the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. "We've used a combination of antibodies to weed out the few undifferentiated cells that could be left in the 10 or 100 million differentiated cells that make up a therapeutic dose."

Weissman pointed out that the production of therapeutic cells from pluripotent stem cells for regenerative medicine was a major goal of Proposition 71, the ballot measure that established the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to allocate $3 billion to advance stem cell science. CIRM funded this research.

The scientists believe the technique could also be used to remove residual tumor-initiating cells from populations of cells derived from induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells. These cells may also be useful for therapy but, unlike embryonic stem cells, iPS cells are created in the labora
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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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