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Scientists Reprogram Human Skin Cells Into Embryonic Stem Cells
Date:2/11/2008

versity of Wisconsin. Together, the studies demonstrate that human iPS cells can be easily created by different laboratories and are likely to mark a milestone in stem cell-based regenerative medicine, Plath said.

Reprogramming adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells has significant implications for disease treatment. A patient's skin cells, for example, could be reprogrammed into embryonic stem cells that could be prodded into becoming beta islet cells to treat diabetes, hematopoetic cells to create a new blood supply for a leukemia patient, or motor neuron cells to treat Parkinson's disease, the researchers said.

These new techniques to develop stem cells could potentially replace a controversial method to reprogram cells called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), sometimes referred to as therapeutic cloning. To date, therapeutic cloning has not been successful in humans.

"Reprogramming normal human cells into cells with identical properties to those in embryonic stem cells without SCNT may have important therapeutic ramifications and provide us with another valuable method to develop human stem cell lines," study first author William Lowry, an assistant professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, said in a prepared statement. "It is important to remember that our research does not eliminate the need for embryo-based human embryonic stem cell research, but rather provides another avenue of worthwhile investigation."

However, top stem cell scientists worldwide stress further research comparing reprogrammed cells with stem cells derived from embryos -- considered the gold standard -- is necessary.

More information

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



-- Kevin McKeever



SOURCE: U
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