Another Australian breakthrough is likely to strengthen the case for embryonic stem cell research.
University of New South Wales (UNSW) academics have proven that tumours can be prevented from forming when embryonic stem cells are transplanted.
"Whilst embryonic stem cells have great potential to deliver therapies for disorders, such as diabetes, a fear has been that they will form tumours because of the presence of undifferentiated cells," said UNSW Professor Bernie Tuch of the Diabetes Transplant Unit, who led the team responsible for the discovery.
"Our breakthrough removes what could have been a stumbling block to this vital research," he said.
The team has shown that placing the embryonic cells inside microcapsules made from a product of seaweed, called alginate, prevents the formation of tumours when the encapsulated cells are transplanted into laboratory animals. The team has also shown that the encapsulation process does not stop the embryonic cells from differentiating.
The data describing the experiments has been published in the North American journal Transplantation, the official journal of the international Transplantation Society.