News of the WeekCell Biology

To Scientists' Dismay, Mixed-Up Cell Lines Strike Again

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Science  27 Aug 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5995, pp. 1004
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5995.1004

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Over the past 5 years, a handful of research teams have raised concerns about ongoing attempts to transplant mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), stem cells found in bone marrow and muscle, into people with heart disease and other conditions. The groups had found that MSCs could become cancerlike after growing for months in the lab. But three of these research teams have now discovered that the cancerlike cells they spotted are unrelated to the original MSCs. In each case, tumor cells that the researchers were using for other projects had contaminated the MSCs and, because they grow faster than the stem cells, ultimately took over the cell culture.