Australian contribution to international study addressing safety issues in stem cell therapies

28 November 2011

An international study, published today in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, reveals more about the genetic stability of human pluripotent stem cells and has important implications for the development of therapies using these cells.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne, University of NSW and CSIRO contributed to this study, which examined how the genome of 138 stem cell lines of diverse ethnic backgrounds changed when the cells were grown in the laboratory.

Professor Martin Pera, co-author of the paper, Chair of Stem Cell Science at the University of Melbourne and Program Leader of Stem Cells Australia, said "Australian scientists made important contributions to this work, which shows clearly that during prolonged culture, stem cells can acquire genetic changes similar to those seen in human cancers. While it is reassuring that 75% of the stem cell lines studied remained normal after prolonged growth in the laboratory, detecting and eliminating abnormal cells is an absolute prerequisite for clinical use of stem cell products. Scientists in Stem Cells Australia are making important contributions to this effort, ” he said.

Dr Andrew Laslett, a CSIRO researcher and co-author on the paper said, "as well as the scientific outcomes, what has been particularly satisfying about this project is the significant international collaborative networks that have been formed and flourished among the more than 35 laboratories and 125 collaborators”.

For more information: 
Screening ethnically diverse human embryonic stem cells identifies a chromosome 20 minimal amplicon conferring growth advantage.
Nature Biotechnology (2011 - subscription maybe required
Australian contribution to international study addressing safety issues
Screening Release-Australian

Media coverage:
DNA discovery may boost stem cell safety ABC SCIENCE ONLINE 28 November 2011
Stem cells vulnerable to cancer THE AUSTRALIAN 28 November 2011
Safety issues in stem cell therapy to be addressed by international study MEDICAL NEWS TODAY 29 November 2011
Given time, stem cells may mutate FUTURITY 13 December 2011
tmore inform