Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Novel genetic technique 'creates' stem cells

Scientists can now transform adult cells to a stem cell-like state without using a cancer inducing gene. Researchers at Harvard University said they can now map the stages of the reprogramming which had thus far been a mystery.

"By defining cellular intermediates of the reprogramming process, our work provides reference points for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying pluripotent (iPS) cell generation," said Dr. Matthias Stadtfeld, one of researchers on the project.

"For example, one can now take the whole reprogramming process apart into different stages and ask what enzymes or genes are important for the different stages to be initiated and completed."

The team at Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital have been studying the conversion of mouse adult cells to embryonic-like states by using four genes. The general way to induce iPS cells is to use cancer causing genes to initiate the process and use retroviruses to insert the genes into the target cells - retroviruses which could activate the cancer cells. The use of either oncogenes or retroviruses would make it impossible to use these cells in patients.

link to full article

No comments: