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Mature Mouse Cells Reprogrammed to Stem Cell-Like State

Work could lead to better understanding of autoimmune diseases, researchers say

THURSDAY, April 17 (HealthDay News) -- Without using an egg, researchers have been able to reprogram certain mature cells back to an embryonic-stem-cell-like state, a new report says.

A research team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology performed the feat on mature B cells, immune cells that can bind to specific antigens, such as proteins from bacteria, viruses or microorganisms. They said their finding, confirmed when they were able to develop mice from the reprogrammed cells, may help enable the creation of models that will lead to a better study and understanding of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.

"In principle, this will allow you to transfer a complex genetic human disease into a Petri dish, and study it. That could be the first step to analyze the disease and to define a therapy," Rudolf Jaenisch, an MIT professor of biology, said in a prepared statement.

The findings are published in the April 18 issue of Cell.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about stem cells.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, news release, April 17, 2008

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