A new study performed at the University of Sheffield has provided new insight into the mechanisms that cause mutations in pluripotent stem cells and offers potential ways for preventing the occurrence of these mutations.
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The study results, published in the Stem Cell Reports journal, demonstrate the relative susceptibility of the pluripotent stem cells to DNA damage and mutations when compared to other types of cells, and this sensitivity may lead to genetic mutations.
Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to develop into any type of cell in the body. As such, these cells have attracted a great deal of interest and allow researchers to synthesize cells to substitute the damaged or diseased tissues in applications called regenerative medicine.
One major concern with regard to the safety of these cells is that they usually attain recurrent mutations, which may lead to safety problems if used in patients.
The scientists observed that such mutations may probably take place at a specific point during their cell cycle and recommended various methods of cultivating the cells to considerably minimize the susceptibility to DNA damage and perhaps the emerging mutations.
Clinical trials of regenerative medicine using cells derived from pluripotent stem cells are now beginning around the world, but there are concerns that mutations in the pluripotent stem cells may risk patient safety. Our results may allow us to significantly reduce that risk. Understanding the genetic stability of human pluripotent stem cells is an area developed at the University of Sheffield and one in which we are an international lead.”
Peter Andrews, Professor, Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield