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Thread: Study calms fears over stem cells/Research boosts hope for stem cell therapy

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    Study calms fears over stem cells/Research boosts hope for stem cell therapy

    Study calms fears over stem cells

    Stem cells have huge potential
    Human embryonic stem cells appear to be much more stable than scientists had feared, research suggests.
    The cells hold great potential for use in repairing tissues damaged by trauma and disease.

    There was concern the cells' genes might be liable to undergo changes that would render make them unsafe for use in therapeutic treatments.

    But a Cambridge University published in Nature Genetics, appears to show that these fears are unfounded.

    The fact that human stem cells are so stable is good news

    Professor Roger Pederson


    Q&A: Stem cells

    Embryonic stem cells are at an early stage of development, and have the ability to become almost any tissue type in the body.

    It is hoped they will eventually be used to treat a range of disease, from diabetes to Parkinson's.

    However, their use is opposed by some campaigners on ethical grounds.

    Scientists were concerned about biochemical - or epigenetic - factors, which play a key role in controlling genetic activity during development.

    These factors help to ensure the activity of our genes remains balanced by subtly changing their physical structure.


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4596833.stm


    Unpredictable

    However, scientists are concerned that epigenetic factors may alter the function of stem cell genes grown in the lab in unpredictable ways, which would be impossible to control.

    The Cambridge team examined six "imprinted" genes from four lines of human embryonic stem cells.

    They found they were highly stable. Unlike similar cells from mice, their epigenetic status hardly altered at all while they were grown in culture.

    Researcher Professor Roger Pederson said it was vital that human stem cells were shown to be stable before research could forge ahead.

    "We know from mouse stem cells that these kind of genes are altered in the course of mouse embryo development.

    "The fact that human stem cells are so stable is good news."

    The Cambridge team only looked at stem cells taken from spare embryos. It is still not known whether stem cells derived from cloning techniques are also stable.



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    Research boosts hope for stem cell therapy

    Research boosts hope for stem cell therapy

    'Stress testing' dispels fear of dangerous instability

    Tim Radford, science editor
    Wednesday June 1, 2005
    The Guardian

    Cambridge scientists believe that they have settled another doubt about embryo stem cell therapy, the controversial technique that could offer new hope for people with diabetes, Parkinson's disease or even spinal injury.
    They report today in Nature Genetics that human embryo stem cells seem stable and unlikely to be altered in any dangerous way as they develop.

    Stem cells are the agents that in 40 weeks turn a fertilised egg into a human being composed of 100 trillion cells of more than 200 different kinds. Two weeks ago South Korean scientists used the science developed to produce Dolly the sheep to "clone" embryo stem cells from 11 patients suffering from a range of injuries and inherited diseases, in the hope that one day they might be able to use them for "personalised" tissue transplants.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/st...496262,00.html



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    Stem Cell Stability

    Stem Cell Stability
    May, 3 2005 7:13


    A potential barrier to the therapeutic use of human embryonic stem cells appears to be less of a concern than previously thought, according to a study published in the June 2005 issue of Nature Genetics. Peter Rugg-Gunn and colleagues report that the status of so-called 'imprinted' genes, in which only one copy of the gene is expressed, is generally normal in a sampling of such genes in a series of human stem cell lines grown in culture dishes.
    Previous work had shown that imprinted genes in embryonic stem cells generated from mouse embryos had altered expression patterns. As such aberrant gene expression might affect the viability or proper functioning of the cells when introduced into individuals as a replacement for diseased cells, it was feared that this represented a major obstacle to their therapeutic use.

    Rugg-Gunn and colleagues examined six genes and three other regions of the human genome that are involved in imprinting -- all but one of which had the normal pattern of expression in the human stem cell lines. Although they note that it is possible that the expression of other genes might be altered in human embryonic stem cells, the current work suggests a greater degree of stability than anticipated.

    Author Contact:

    Peter Rugg-Gunn (University of Cambridge, UK)
    E-mail: pjr36@cam.ac.uk



    http://hum-molgen.org/NewsGen/05-2005/msg03.html



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