Molecular cytogenetics: making it safe for human embryonic stem cells to enter the clinic

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Regenerative therapies based on transplantation of cells derived from human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are currently being prepared for clinical trials. Unfortunately, recent evidence indicates that many kinds of changes can occur to hESC during expansion in culture, and alterations to the growth control mechanisms may be required to establish hESC lines at all. Changes in the genome and epigenome can affect the validity ofin vitroand animal studies, and put transplant recipients at increased risk of cancer. New molecular cytogenetic technologies enable us to examine the whole human genome with ever-finer resolution. This review describes several techniques for whole-genome analysis and the information they can provide about hESC lines. Adoption of high-resolution genotyping into routine characterization may prevent highly discouraging clinical outcomes.

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