Nov
20
2007

Human skin reprogrammed into stem cells

Stem cell research milestone

Cut spinal cords, destroyed brain tissue, or damaged heart muscle can be repaired by injecting stem cells into the damaged area. Embryonic stem (ES) cells are like blank cells that give rise to every type of cell and tissue in the body. Using human embryos or unfertilized human eggs as a source of stem cells raised show-stopping opposition. Now stem cells have been produced from skin.

Human stem cells from skin

Two separate teams of researchers announced on Tuesday they had transformed ordinary skin cells into batches of cells that look and act like embryonic stem cells -- but without using cloning technology and without making embryos.

Both teams call the new cells induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and say they look and act like embryonic stem cells.

The research was published online Tuesday by two journals, Cell and Science. The Cell paper is from a team led by Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University; the team published by Science was led by Junying Yu, working in the lab of stem-cell pioneer James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thompson said the technique is so simple that "thousands of labs in the United States can do this, basically tomorrow." In contrast, the cloning approach is so complex and expensive that many scientists say it couldn't be used routinely to supply stem cells for therapy.

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Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

ANNE's picture
ANNE says:

I am so glad to hear that this stem cell process could be available. It is a better alternative that human eggs and fetuses, less expensive and appears it will be available to a wider range of people. I worry so much that a great deal of our medical technology is, number one, horribly expensive and, number two, not really sustainable; that is we cannot expect that everyone can access to all technology if they need it. Discoveries like this give a lot of hope!

posted on Wed, 12/12/2007 - 3:15pm

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