Sunday, May 07, 2017

A Scripps Scientist Deflates Cancer-Stem Cell Nexus

The sky is not falling, says a Scripps Research Institute scientist, despite headlines that seem to link "mutation" and "cancer" and "stem cells."

That comes from Jeanne Loring, head of the stem cell program at Scripps, who was writing on the blog of UC Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler. Loring said,
"'Mutation' and 'cancer' are eye-catching words for a headline; add 'stem cells' and there is a good chance that a lot of people will hear about it. These words have been liberally used in the press to describe the results of a recent publication: 'Human pluripotent stem cells recurrently acquire and expand dominant negative P53 mutations.'"
Loring said she has been on a soapbox on this issue since 2000.  She said, 
"Every time a scientific report suggests that human stem cells are dangerous, I feel the need to reassure both scientists and non-scientists that we should not panic.  The sky is NOT falling (contrary to Henny Penny), and pluripotent stem cells remain valuable for cell replacement therapies."
Loring went into the rather technical reasons for her position as well as identifying issues having to do with not knowing enough about the cells used in research. She also provided some tools for researchers to use to identify cells with "functionally important mutations."

Loring's bottom line to researchers:
"Don't panic! Check your cells instead."
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