Efficiency In Engineered Pluripotency

Infrastructural improvement is key; making the tools faster, better and cheaper will speed progress. Here's another good example via EurekAlert!: "The ability to drive somatic, or fully differentiated, human cells back to a pluripotent or 'stem cell' state would overcome many of the significant scientific and social challenges to the use of embryo-derived stem cells and help realize the promise of regenerative medicine. Recent research with mouse and human cells has demonstrated that such a transformation ('reprogramming') is possible, although the current process is inefficient and, when it does work, poorly understood ... We used a genomic approach to identify key obstacles to the reprogramming process and to understand why most cells fail to reprogram ... Previous work had demonstrated that four transcription factors - proteins that mediate whether their target genes are turned on or off - could drive fully differentiated cells, such as skin or blood cells, into a stem cell-like state ... Interestingly, the response of most cells appears to be activation of normal 'fail safe' mechanisms. Improving the low efficiency of the reprogramming process will require circumventing these mechanisms without disabling them permanently."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-05/biom-nii052708.php


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