How to tell good stem cells from the bad

September 5, 2014 by Bill Hathaway
How to tell good stem cells from the bad
Separating the good stem cells from the bad. Credit: Matthew Chock, NYC

The promise of embryonic stem cell research has been thwarted by an inability to answer a simple question: How do you know a good stem cell from a bad one?

Yale researchers report in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell that they have found a marker that predicts which batch of personalized will develop into a variety of tissue types and which will develop into unusable placental or tumor-like tissues.

Scientists have been unable to capitalize on revolutionary findings in 2006 that could be made young again with the simple introduction of four factors. Hopes were raised that doctors would soon have access to unlimited supplies of a patient's own iPSCs—induced pluripotent stem cells—that could be used to repair many types of tissue damage. However, efforts to direct these cells to therapeutic goals have proved difficult. Many attempts to use cells clinically have failed because they form tumors instead of the desired tissue.

The team of Yale Stem Cell Center researchers led by senior author Andrew Xiao identified a variant histone—a protein that helps package DNA—which can predict the developmental path of iPSC cells in mice. An accompanying paper in the same journal by researchers at the Whitehead Institute at MIT and Hebrew University in Israel also identifies at different marker that also appears to predict stem cell fate.

"The trend is to raise the standards and quality very high, so we can think about using these cells in clinic," Xiao said. "With our assay, we have a reliable molecular marker that can tell what is a good cell and what is a bad one."

Explore further: Expression of pluripotency-associated gene marks many types of adult stem cells

Related Stories

Animal-free reprogramming of adult cells improves safety

August 13, 2014

Human stem cells produced through genetic reprogramming are beset by safety concerns because current techniques alter the DNA of the stem cells and use material from animals to grow them. Now, A*STAR researchers have developed ...

Recommended for you

Great frigate birds found able to fly for months at a time

July 1, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers with members from France, the U.K., Canada and Germany has discovered that the great frigate bird (Fregata minor) is able to stay aloft for up to two months at a time. In their paper ...

Gene amplification – the fast track to infection

July 1, 2016

Researchers at Umeå University are first to discover that bacteria can multiply disease-inducing genes which are needed to rapidly cause infection. The results were published in Science on 30 June 2016.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.