Researchers develop test to detect unsafe stem cells

Melbourne: Australian scientists claim to have developed a test to check if certain types of stem cells were unsafe and could mutate at a later stage resulting in tumours.

According to an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has been working for the last five years developing a safety test for induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells.

CSIRO`s Andrew Laslett said there were still a number of question marks about the long term stability and safety of iPS cells, which do not require a human embryo and are considered an important research advance.

"Sometimes the cells that are made from the iPS cells change back into stem cells which are unwanted because these cells can form tumours called teratomas," he said.`

Laslett is now hoping that the research will be used to ensure stem cell therapies are safe for humans by providing more information about the quality of iPS and identifying unwanted cells that can mutate.

"At this stage it appears that human embryonic stem cells may be slightly safer, but it`s early days," Laslett said.

"Any cell line that`s going to be used for cell therapy has to go through a whole barrage of different tests to see whether they`re safe," he said.

"We hope that this one will be added to that number of tests," he added.