Monday, March 09, 2009

Stem Cell Breakthrough

news you may not know

Some Are Tired of Dolly's Fame...

Do you like sheep? Well, if so, you're in good company. One of the researchers who cloned Dolly the sheep is part of the team that recently announced a major breakthrough in stem cell technology. Word on the farm is Dolly's ancestors will make their own announcement shortly.

The breakthrough has to do with the use of ordinary skin cells to create induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells -- these are cells that behave identically to embryonic stem cells. Researchers had previously shown they could create stem cells from ordinary skin cells. But to do so they had to rely on using viruses to complete the process. While this worked, it also raised the possibility of inducing cancer at a later date.

The new technology no longer uses viruses -- it's a huge step in the right direction.

“I was very excited when I found stem cell-like cells in my culture dishes. Nobody, including me, thought it was really possible,” said Dr Keisuke Kaji from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine. "This new method will advance the field of regenerative medicine, and should help understand diseases and test new drugs. It is a step towards the practical use of reprogrammed cells in medicine, perhaps even eliminating the need for human embryos as a source of stem cells.”

... excellent news indeed.

To read more about the study, see this from Reuters. To learn more about stem cells, see this from the National Institutes of Health.


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