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Science Magazine on "Race" to Stem Cell Breakthrough

The Thomson article is online (abstract is free, article is behind a pay wall), but I haven’t had a chance to read it.

In the meantime, Science Magazine has a news article on both the publication from Wisconsin’s Thomson and the previously discussed Takahashi/Yamanaka article in Cell.

Be sure and read the last sentence!!!!

Now the race to repeat the feat in human cells has ended in a tie: Two groups report today that they have reprogrammed human skin cells into so-called induced pluripotent cells (iPCs). In a paper published online in Cell, Yamanaka and his colleagues show that their mouse technique works with human cells as well. And in a paper published online in Science, James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and his colleagues report success in reprogramming human cells, again by inserting just four genes, two of which are different from those Yamanaka uses.

Thomson’s team started from scratch, identifying its own list of 14 candidate reprogramming genes. Like Yamanaka’s group, the team used a systematic process of elimination to identify four factors: OCT3 and SOX2, as Yamanaka used, and two different genes, NANOG and LIN28. The group reprogrammed cells from fetal skin and from the foreskin of a newborn boy. The researchers were able to transform about one in 10,000 cells, less than Yamanaka’s technique achieved, Thomson says, but still enough to create several cell lines from a single experiment.

Although promising, both techniques share a downside. The retroviruses used to insert the genes could cause tumors in tissues grown from the cells. The crucial next step, everyone agrees, is to find a way to reprogram cells by switching on the genes rather than inserting new copies. The field is moving quickly toward that goal, says stem cell researcher Douglas Melton of Harvard University. “It is not hard to imagine a time when you could add small molecules that would tickle the same networks as these genes” and produce reprogrammed cells without genetic alterations, he says.

Once the kinks are worked out, “the whole field is going to completely change,” says stem cell researcher Jose Cibelli of Michigan State University in East Lansing. “People working on ethics will have to find something new to worry about.”

(edited November 21, 2007 to adjust the title. I over reacted in calling this statement and “insult.”)

About bnuckols

Conservative Christian Family Doctor, promoting conservative news and views. (Hot Air under the right wing!)

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