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New induced stem cells may unmask cancer at earliest stage
Date:2/3/2011

MADISON - By coaxing healthy and diseased human bone marrow to become embryonic-like stem cells, a team of Wisconsin scientists has laid the groundwork for observing the onset of the blood cancer leukemia in the laboratory dish.

"This is the first successful reprogramming of blood cells obtained from a patient with leukemia," says University of Wisconsin-Madison stem cell researcher Igor Slukvin, who directed a study aimed at generating all-purpose stem cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood. "We were able to turn the diseased cells back into pluripotent stem cells. This is important because it provides a new model for the study of cancer cells."

The research was reported today (Feb. 4) in the journal Blood by Slukvin and colleagues from the WiCell Research Institute and the Morgridge Institute for Research, private research centers in Madison.

Slukvin's group, using banked healthy and diseased bone marrow and cord blood, employed a technique developed in 2009 by Wisconsin stem cell pioneer James Thomson that sidesteps the problems posed by the genes and viral vectors used to induce mature cells to regress to a stem cell state.

According to the new study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health and The Charlotte Geyer Foundation, reprogramming blood cells to become induced stem cells is many times more efficient than the reprogramming of skin cells, which were the first mature cells to be guided back to an embryonic stem cell-like state.

The new work could open to science vast repositories of banked tissue, both healthy and diseased, such as bone marrow, the soft tissue in bones that helps make blood, and umbilical cord blood. The work could underpin insightful models capable of unmasking the cellular events that go awry and cause cancers such as leukemia, and could aid the development of new stem cell-based therapies, according to Slukvin.

Of particular note in the new study, says Slukvin, is the repr
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Contact: Igor Slukvin
islukvin@wisc.edu
608-263-0058
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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