An independent study of the genetic makeup of human embryonic stem cells suggests that these cells are fit to use in humans.

The researchers note, in a media release from the University of Edinburgh, that this could pave the way for clinical trials of stem cell therapies to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and spinal cord injury.

In their study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, scientists at the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh investigated the genetic make-up of 25 lines of human stem cells that have been grown in the laboratory from cells found in the early embryo.

To do so, they used a technique called molecular karyotyping, which is a highly sensitive method of detecting genetic abnormalities, the release explains.

More than half of the cell lines carried large but stable genetic differences. However, these changes are also present in healthy populations without significant consequences, the team notes in the release.

They also found that a small number of the cell lines acquired genetic problems if they were grown in the laboratory for too long. The researchers note in the release that this highlights the need for continued genetic testing of stem cell-based products to ensure that they are suitable for use in patients.

[Source(s): University of Edinburgh, Science Daily]