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New stem cell technique improves genetic alteration
Date:3/7/2008

akes proteins that glow green under a special light. The green color allows them to track cell movement once the cells are transplanted into an animal model, making it easier for researchers to identify the cells during safety studies of potential stem cell therapies.

Scientists today primarily use chemicals to get DNA into cells, but that method inadvertently can kill the cells and is inefficient at transferring genetic information. For every one genetically altered cell generated using the chemical method, the new growth factor/nucleofection method produces between 10 and 100 successfully modified cells, UCI scientists estimate.

With the publication of this study, the new method now may be used by stem cell scientists worldwide to improve the efficiency of genetically modifying human embryonic stem cells.

Before our technique, genetic modification of human embryonic stem cells largely was inefficient, Hohenstein said. This is a stepping stone for bigger things to come.

Scientists can use the technique to develop populations of cells with abnormalities that lead to disease. They can then study those cells to learn more about the disorder and how it is caused. Scientists also possibly could use the technique to correct the disorder in stem cells, then use the healthy cells in a treatment.

The method potentially could help treat monogenic diseases, which result from modifications in a single gene occurring in all cells of the body. Though relatively rare, these diseases affect millions of people worldwide. Scientists currently estimate that more 10,000 human diseases are monogenic, according to the World Health Organization. Examples include Huntingtons disease, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis and hemophilia.

UCI is at the forefront of stem cell research. The Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center promotes basic and clinical research training in the field of stem cell biology. More than 60 UCI scientis
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Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger
jfitzen@uci.edu
949-824-3969
University of California - Irvine
Source:Eurekalert

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