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THE USE OF STEM CELLS FOR TOXICOLOGY STUDIES AND RISK ASSESSMENTS
PRESTON, J. THE USE OF STEM CELLS FOR TOXICOLOGY STUDIES AND RISK ASSESSMENTS. Presented at GEMS Spring Meeting, Research Triangle Park, NC, April 12, 2005.
In general terms, toxicology studies are used in support of risk assessments of adverse health outcomes as a result of exposures to chemical and physical agents. In particular, toxicological data are used to provide information that aids in the assessment of disease outcomes at exposure levels below those at which changes in the frequency of the disease itself can be determined. The need is to develop informative bioindicators of response. For a large number of diseases, especially cancers, the cell types that are quite possibly involved in the initiation of the disease are tissue specific stem cells. Thus, the study of toxicological effects in adult stem cells is most appropriate for predicting disease outcomes. Such studies become even more pertinent when it is appreciated that stem cells are present in an individual throughout lifetime and thus can accumulate genetic, and perhaps epigenetic, alterations as a result of lifetime exposures. In addition, stem cell biology is quite unusual when compared to that of other somatic and germ cell types; for example, stem cells have the potential for limitless growth. Thus, extrapolations to predict effects in stem cells from data collected from other cell types are fraught with problems. Pluripotent embryonic stem cells can also be used beneficially in toxicological research, particularly in developmental studies and for embryo toxicity assessment. The potential uses for stem cells in toxicological research and risk assessment will be expanded in the presentation to provide some suggestions for future research.