Latest study conducted by the researchers of National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHBLI) reveals about a study which shows an active link between tumor formation in stem cells and mitochondria.

This findings is supposed to be a breakthrough, as this could lead to the development of methods for enriching the best stem cells from a population for therapeutic use. These findings is also expected to provide some insights into the role of stem cells in cancer.

The study was conducted by Toren Finkel and colleagues of NHBLI, on different types of sorted embryonic cells which was extracted from mouse. They were sorted by their mitochondrial potential (the amount of voltage going across mitochondrial membranes, similar to how nerve activity is measured).

During their study, they found that both visually and in the expression of key stem cell markers, low and high metabolism stem cells were indistinguishable. And when they were transplanted into mice, they show contrasting properties. They found that cells with lower metabolic rates were more efficient at differentiating into other cell types while the highly metabolic cells were more prone to keep dividing and form teratomas, tumors characterized by having various tissue types mixed together.

Thus proving that stem cell potency depends on the metabolic rate of their mitochondria –a cell’s energy makers.