Study Suggests Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Are Safer Than Feared

Genetically Engineered Fluorescent Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC). Credit: National Institute of Arthritis

The process of reprogramming adult cells into induced pluripotent stem cells doesn't appear to create mutations - assuaging safety concerns

IPSC technology shows great promise for regenerative medicine, and is already demonstrating massive potential in labs around the globe. A remaining fear however was that manner in which IPSCs are formed could in itself trigger new mutations; making IPSCs more risky to use on patients. The latest study appears to put this to rest. 

A relief

Scientists at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) have discovered that IPSCs carry no more mutations than individual cells that are cultured and grown into a normal cell line. The introduction of reprogramming factors, which act as a signal and transform adult cells into IPSCs, does not initiate new mutations. After sequencing a range of different cells they found the mutation rate in IPSCs was the same as 'normal' cells, which is usually very low. The majority of mutations unveiled were already there and were inherited from the original adult cells. 

"This finding suggests that most mutations in iPSCs are not generated during the reprogramming or iPSC production phase and provides evidence that iPSCs are stable and safe to use for both basic and clinical research. Based on this data, we plan to start using iPSCs to gain a deeper understanding of how diseases start and progress. We eventually hope to develop new therapies to treat patients with leukemia using their own iPSCs. We encourage other researchers to embrace the use of iPSCs"

This revelation is welcome news, and bodes well for the wider introduction of IPSC techniques in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. 

Read more at MedicalXpress