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Scientists Turn Skin Cells Into Motor Neurons in ALS Patients
Date:7/31/2008

of the oldest, if not the oldest, ALS patients in the United States. Researchers didn't know if the ravages of the disease might have interfered with their ability to reprogram the cells.

The big question on everyone's mind is whether iPS will eliminate the need for somatic cell nuclear transfer. Eggan said it won't.

"There are still several important caveats for these cells that we've made that are important to be aware of," Eggan said. For one thing, the cells were infected with genetically modified viruses, making them potentially dangerous to humans. Future research will no doubt focus on ways to replace those viruses with chemicals.

"[But], for the moment, we're going to have to press forward with SCNT research just in case that doesn't work out," Eggan said. So far, though, no one knows if human SCNT is even possible.

More information

Visit the ALS Association for more on Lou Gehrig's Disease.



SOURCES: July 30, 2008, teleconference with Kevin Eggan, Ph.D., principal faculty member, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Boston; Christopher Henderson, Ph.D., professor, pathology, neurology and neuroscience, co-director, Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease, Columbia University, and senior scientific advisor, Project A.L.S./ Jenifer Estess Laboratory for Stem Cell Research, New York City; July 31, 2008, Science, online


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