Weeding Out Bad Stem Cells

A new antibody cocktail can remove undifferentiated, tumor-forming cells from a mix of embryonic stem cells.

Cristina Luiggi
Aug 16, 2011

FLICKR, AJC1

The tendency of embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells to form teratomas is a major factor hindering their development as human therapies. Intent on developing a way to sift out the tumor-forming, pluripotent cells from a hodgepodge cell culture, researchers have identified a cocktail of three antibodies that specifically bind to undifferentiated cells. Their findings were published this week in Nature Biotechnology.

While two of these antibodies were already commercially available, the researchers generated a third antibody, which they named stage-specific embryonic antigen-5 (SSEA-5), to bind to glycan molecules found only in early embryonic pluripotent cells. Used in conjunction, the three antibodies removed most tumorigenic cells from culture, although the researchers still observed abnormal growth in the resulting cell mix, Science Codex reports.

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