Forging Ahead With Cellular Reprogramming

ScienceNOW reports on progress in turning ordinary cells into pluripotent stem cells by means other than somatic cell nuclear transfer. Competition in methodologies is always a good sign of progress: "Two groups report today that they have reprogrammed human skin cells into so-called induced pluripotent cells (iPCs). ... Yamanaka and his colleagues show that their mouse technique works with human cells as well. And [Thomson] and his colleagues report success in reprogramming human cells, again by inserting just four genes ... 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 ... 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." Readily available, low-cost sources of tailored stem cells are fuel for the tissue engineering and regenerative medicine of the future.


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