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Stem Cells Have Few Mutations

Researchers have found that embryonic stem cells develop a relatively small number of mutations which can be detected by screening. They felt that the mouse embryonic stem cells were actually more genetically stable than some adult cells.
Jay A. Tischfield, a researcher at Rutgers University and a co-author of the study, everybody has assumed that the embryonic stem cell had a mutation rate, we show that it is actually lower than what you find in the adult cells.// Peter J. Stambrook, a cell biologist at the University of Cincinnati and a co-author of the study, said that the most common embryonic stem cell mutation found in the mice was the deletion of a chromosome that is replaced by a second copy of the remaining chromosome.

Although the numerical balance of chromosomes is restored by the replacement, the mutation can increase the risk of tumor formation. But this type of mutation is quickly spotted in routine laboratory screening of cells, he said. Starmbrook felt that, it was actually very easy to screen for this mutation and you could then eliminate cells that have undergone this process.

Embryonic stem cells are the master cells for development. They form within a few days of conception and are the primordial cells for all the tissues in the body. Many scientists believe these cells, grow in the laboratory, can be coaxed to transform into liver, heart and other cells that can be used to renew ailing organs.

Many people oppose research with human embryonic stem cells because to isolate them requires the death of an embryo. President Bush last summer issued regulations that would forbid federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research except for cell colonies that already existed. The result is that only about 60 cell colonies are available for federally funded research.

This has prompted widespread research on embryonic stem cell mutations, a key problem in learning how to use the cells for therapy. ``O
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