If you follow my writings, you’ll know I am a thorn in the side of those claiming to offer “stem cell therapy”. It’s a con by crooks. Stay well away from it.
In the early years, it was cells harvested from aborted Russian embryos, which is disgusting. Latterly, we are encouraged that growing a person’s own stem cells and making new hearts, kidneys etc., is the way to go.
But it is still way to early for this to be offered commercially. Only greedy and dishonest people would offer to do it.
Safety is just one of the issues but a major one. Now a report published just a few weeks ago has shown the potential dangers. Stem cell lines grown in culture appear to mutate and gain a strong growth and multiplication potential. Not a bad thing, you might think, for organ replacement. But in fact it is dangerous; that’s all that cancer cells are—runaway growth and multiplication cells.
More than 100 human stem cell lines were studied in a worldwide project organized from Sheffield in the UK as part of the International Stem Cell Initiative (ISCI). The results were published online (November 27) in Nature Biotechnology.
What was most disturbing in the findings was that the majority of cell lines tended towards the same, consistent growth abnormality. About 20 percent of the lines contained an amplification of a short region on chromosome 20, which appears to confer a growth advantage to the cells.
It is unlikely that serious use of stem cell therapy for humans will be approved until this particular anomaly is understood and blocked.
In total, the genomes of 125 independent hESC lines from 38 laboratories in 19 different countries were analyzed. A number of commonly amplified and deleted regions were identified, but only one—an amplification on the long arm of chromosome 20—occurred with sufficient frequency and was of a small enough size to identify a single candidate gene.
The gene, BCL2L1, encodes a protein that inhibits cell death. Cell lines with the amplified BCL2L1 region therefore had slowed cell death, resulting in a growth advantage in culture.
It’s not the end of research, of course. All cells tend to vary their genetic make up through time. The time will come when this is understood better and allowed for.
What these researchers would not be thinking of, of course, is epigenetics. I have no idea what gunk they fed the cells as “nutrition” but I’m willing to bet if I made up the formula, you’d get a different outcome. It’s possible to switch bad genes on and off like a light switch, using environmental control, which includes nutrients.
Watch this space!
[REFERENCE: The International Stem Cell Initiative, “Screening ethnically diverse human embryonic stem cells identifies a chromosome 20 minimal amplicon conferring growth advantage,” Nature Biotechnology, doi:10.1038/nbt.2051, 2011]