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Stem Cell Modification Could Prove Useful For Testing Drugs

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Aired 1/8/10

Genetically altering stem cells in order to test new drugs may have become easier thanks to research at U.C. San Diego.

— Genetically altering stem cells in order to test new drugs may have become easier thanks to research at U.C. San Diego.

Human stem cell lines have great potential as testbeds for new drugs because, unlike lab mice, they respond to drugs as human tissues do. This is why scientists have tried to modify embryonic stem cells to give them the genetic defects that make people vulnerable to diseases like cancer.

UCSD biologist Yang Xu said he has found a way to do this efficiently. He delivers the genetic variation to the stem cell in a bacterial chromosome. Xu said this can make drug testing prior to clinical trials that involve people much more effective.

'You still have to do clinical trial," he said. "But this would be a much better checkpoint before you move to clinical trial."

The research done by Xu's lab group has been published in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

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