Eliminating Tumor Risk In Embryonic Stem Cells

stem cells

Human embryonic cells could be incredibly important for the treatment of a number of serious illnesses that usually cause tissue damage. Diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. These embryonic stem cells are capable of differentiation to all cell types of the adult human body under specific conditions. This ability has earned them the name “pluripotent,” and turned the study of them into one of the fastest growing and most exciting fields of medical research in regenerative therapy.

All this excitement about the endless possibilities surrounding current stem cell research is burdened by their tendency to develop specific kinds of tumors, called teratomata, when they are implanted into mice during medical experimentation. Teratomatas grow from pluripotent cells and they are made up of of a number of different tissue elements from several of the three germ cell layers. Scientists assume that this tumerogenic feature will also occur in human patients as well. Since embryonic stem cells begin their lifetime as complete, normal cells, the development of the Teratomatas development continues to be a mystery to medical researchers.

Recently, a team of scientists from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem have conducted experiments trying to break down the cause, and solve this troubling problem. The team has focused on analyzing the genetic basis of tumor formation originating from the human embryonic stem cells. They located a gene, called survivin, which looks as though it us integral to the tumorogenesis process. This survivin gene is expressed in most cancer cells and early stage embryos, but is generally missing from adult human tissue.

This discovery brings the safe and effective use of embryonic stem cells for treatment of a vast number of ailments closer to reality for many people suffering from these diseases.

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