September 29, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Stemotoxic: a new, important word for stem cell gurus to know

In a 2009 article on stem cells in the journal Stem Cells, Deconstructing Stem Cell Tumorigenicity: A Roadmap to Safe Regenerative Medicine, I coined a new word:


It’s a useful word on a number of levels for the stem cell field.

What does “stemotoxic” mean? I hope it is fairly intuitive in that it means something that is specifically toxic to stem cells.

Instead of stemotoxic, one could say instead “cytotoxic to stem cells” or “toxic to stem cells”, but I think having one word is useful.


Stemotoxic substances can have both good and bad applications.

For example, in my first use of the word in that paper four years ago, I was thinking of a helpful application of stemotoxic substances: removing residual contaminating stem cells from preps of differentiated cells made from stem cells (see figure 2 from that paper above).

At the same time, in our daily lives and also in the preparation of stem cells for clinical use, stemotoxic agents are bad guys.

So there’s a definite ying and yang to stemotoxic factors.