Via EurekAlert!: "researchers have developed a novel method to remove potential cancer-causing genes during the reprogramming of skin cells from Parkinson's disease patients into an embryonic-stem-cell-like state. Scientists then used the resulting induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to derive dopamine-producing neurons, the cell type that degenerates in Parkinson's disease patients. This marks the first time researchers have generated human iPS cells that have maintained their embryonic stem-cell-like properties after the removal of reprogramming genes. ... Until this point, it was not completely clear that when you take out the reprogramming genes from human cells, the reprogrammed cells would actually maintain the iPS state and be self-perpetuating ... Because [dopamine neurons] reside in the patients' brains, researchers cannot easily access them to investigate how the disease progresses at the cellular level, what kills the cells, or what might prevent cellular damage. Therefore, the ability to create patient-specific iPS cells, derive the dopamine-producing cells, and study those patient-specific cells in the lab could be a great advantage for Parkinson's disease researchers."