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UCLA stem cell scientists reprogram human skin cells into embryonic stem cells
Date:2/11/2008

UCLA stem cell scientists have reprogrammed human skin cells into cells with the same unlimited properties as embryonic stem cells without using embryos or eggs.

Led by scientists Kathrin Plath and William Lowry, UCLA researchers used genetic alteration to turn back the clock on human skin cells and create cells that are nearly identical to human embryonic stem cells, which have the ability to become every cell type found in the human body. Four regulator genes were used to create the cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells.

The UCLA study confirms the work first reported in late November of researcher Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University and James Thompson at the University of Wisconsin. The UCLA research appears Feb. 11, 2008, in an early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.

The implications for disease treatment could be significant. Reprogramming adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells could generate a potentially limitless source of immune-compatible cells for tissue engineering and transplantation medicine. A patients skin cells, for example, could be reprogrammed into embryonic stem cells. Those embryonic stem cells could then be prodded into becoming various cells types beta islet cells to treat diabetes, hematopoetic cells to create a new blood supply for a leukemia patient, motor neuron cells to treat Parkinsons disease.

Our reprogrammed human skin cells were virtually indistinguishable from human embryonic stem cells, said Plath, an assistant professor of biological chemistry, a researcher with the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and lead author of the study. Our findings are an important step towards manipulating differentiated human cells to generate an unlimited supply of patient specific pluripotent stem cells. We are very excited about the potential implications.

The UCLA work was comp
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Contact: Kim Irwin
kirwin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-206-2805
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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