Challenges of using pluripotent stem cells for safety assessments of substances.
Toxicology 2010 March 30; 270(1): 10-17
Various European Union (EU) legislations request the use of in vitro tests for toxicological evaluations in order to increase the safety of consumer and patients but also to reduce the number vertebrates. The review provides a brief overview on EU legislations in place but without further interpretation. At present several ongoing EU projects address the need of developing predictive in vitro tests including projects assessing the potential of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines as basis for a range of toxicity tests. Tests based on human cells would avoid interspecies variations and as such predict more precisely adverse effects to the human body. However, the ethical situation on the use of toxicity tests based on hESCs is still under debate since no harmonization within Europe on the use of hESC lines has been achieved yet. A mutual acceptance of toxicity tests based on hESCs for regulatory applications is therefore challenging. Recent reports on the establishment of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are pointing to a way out of this dilemma, since these cells have apparently very similar characteristics as hESCs and could serve as basis for the development of toxicity tests. A careful scientific comparison between pluripotent cells of different origin is now needed in order to make final judgments. In any case, the development of reliable and relevant in vitro toxicity tests based on human pluripotent cells requires additional quality assessments of critical parameter that are also summarized within the review.
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National Institutes of Health [NIH] (United States) (2000-09-07)