New research into stem cell mutations could improve regenerative medicine

  • New research from the University of Sheffield into stem cells could help make regenerative medicine safer
  • Regenerative medicine involves using pluripotent stem cells to repair damaged or diseased tissues in the body
  • The new research has suggested ways to reduce the likelihood of mutations occurring in these cells when cultured

Petri dish and pipette

Research from the University of Sheffield has given new insight into the cause of mutations in pluripotent stem cells and potential ways of stopping these mutations from occurring.

The findings, published in Stem Cell Reports, show that pluripotent stem cells are particularly susceptible to DNA damage and mutations compared to other cells, and this could cause genetic mutations.

Pluripotent stem cells are able to develop into any cell type in the body, and there is considerable interest in using them to produce cells to replace diseased or damaged tissues in applications referred to as regenerative medicine.

One concern for the safety of this is that these cells often acquire recurrent mutations which might lead to safety issues if used in patients.

The researchers have found that these mutations are more likely to occur in a certain point during their cell cycle and have suggested ways of growing the cells to dramatically reduce the susceptibility to DNA damage and potentially the mutations that arise.

Peter Andrews, Professor of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield, said: “Clinical trials of regenerative medicine using cells derived from pluripotent stem cells are now beginning around the world, but there are concerns that mutations in the pluripotent stem cells may risk patient safety. Our results may allow us to significantly reduce that risk.

“Understanding the genetic stability of human pluripotent stem cells is an area developed at the University of Sheffield and one in which we are an international lead.”

The Department of Biomedical Science at the University of Sheffield carries out world-leading research to understand disease, improve treatments, and find potential cures. Researchers work in areas ranging from cell biology and developmental biology to neuroscience and regenerative medicine, with expertise in topics including stem cells and cancer.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 29,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.
Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2018 and for the last eight years has been ranked in the top five UK universities for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

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Contact

For further information please contact:

Emma Griffiths
Media and PR Assistant
The University of Sheffield
0114 222 1034
e.l.griffiths@sheffield.ac.uk