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Stem cells create tumours, says expert (The Austrailian)

Prof Sherley, from Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today said scientists had failed to reveal problems with embryonic stem cells that would prevent them being used in humans.

The unique feature of embryonic stem cells that allowed them to turn into any cell of the body, known as pluripotency, created a problem when researchers injected them into tissue, Prof Sherley said.

“When you put them in an environment where they can grow and develop, they make lots of different kind of tissues,” Prof Sherley said.

“This tumour formation property is an inherent feature of the cells.

“And all you have to do is simply inject them into an animal tissue – this happens at very high efficiency.

“And although some might say we can solve the tumour problem down the road, that's equivalent to saying we can solve the cancer problem and we may, but that's a long time coming.”

Prof Sherley said the tumours, called teratomas, were generally considered benign, but it was possible they could metastasize or produce chemicals such as enzymes and cytokines that affect other parts of the body.

Prof Sherley said many scientists agreed with his views but were too scared to speak out over concerns it could affect their funding and reputation.

(For rest, see article.)


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