In human cell-processed therapeutic products (hCTPs) for clinical application, tumorigenic cellular impurities in the manufacturing process are a major concern. Because cellular immortalization is one of the prerequisite steps in tumorigenesis, we tested whether cell growth analysis can be employed to check for immortalized (and potentially tumorigenic) cellular impurities in hCTPs. We monitored the growth of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) mixed with HeLa cells at a ratio of 1/106 or more and compared their growth rates with that of BMSCs alone. The cell growth analysis detected a significant increase in the growth rate of the BMSCs spiked with 0.0001% HeLa within 30 days at a probability of 47%. When human adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) were spiked with ASC52telo cells, a human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)-immortalized adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell line, at a ratio of 0.001% or more, their growth rates were significantly increased within 15 passages, compared with that of ADSCs alone. These results indicate that cell growth analysis for the detection of immortalized cellular impurities in human somatic stem cells is simple and can be useful for the quality assessment of hCTPs in the manufacturing process.
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