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Research Shows Old Stem Cells Can Turn Cancerous

Scoop Report: Research Shows Old Stem Cells Can Turn Cancerous

By Marietta Gross - Scoop Media Auckland.

Stem cells from human adipose tissue have turned cancerous in a study with laboratory animals. The malignant tumours were formed through cells which had been cultivated outside of the body.

The researchers had expected that such adult stem cells normally wouldn’t form malignant tumours, which is a familiar problem within embryonic stem cells.

A risk for humans, who have already been treated with stem cells from their bone marrow, would not exist, say the researchers. Cells which are applied in such a therapy are cultivated only in a short time outside the body.

“Under normal circumstances of a clinical application we regard these cells as fairly safe”, said Antonio Bernad from the Autonomous University of Madrid, who led the research. “But we should be cautious.”

The scientists see a connection between the number of divisions of the cells outside the body and the risk for cancer. The team examined the so called mesenchymal stem cells, which were divided in the laboratory 90 to 140 times, before they were injected into the subjects.

Only one in 10,000 cells in the bone marrow is a mesenchymal one. They can develop into different tissue types such as bone cells, muscle cells and neurons.

The older cells are more vulnerable to generate cancer. Bernad is convinced that the key was not to let these cell cultures grow too long. The researchers warned, that only little amounts of stem cells should be proliferated over many generations and demand a general growth limitation of about 60 generations for these cell cultures.


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