Update on Induced Pluripotency Research

It is impressive to see how rapidly researchers are moving forward with induced pluripotency. Here's another step forward via EurekAlert!: scientists have "used tiny molecules called microRNAs to help turn adult mouse cells back to their embryonic state. These reprogrammed cells are pluripotent, meaning that, like embryonic stem cells, they have the capacity to become any cell type in the body. The findings suggest that scientists will soon be able to replace retroviruses and even genes currently used in laboratory experiments to induce pluripotency in adult cells. This would make potential stem cell-based therapies safer by eliminating the risks posed to humans by these DNA-based methods, including alteration of the genome and risk of cancer. ... [MicroRNAs] are transient, non-coding molecules that do not incorporate into the genome, but promote self-replication and have the potential to induce pluripotency. They do their thing -- turn a somatic cell into an embryonic stem cell-like one -- and then they're gone ... The goal now is to ensure the safety of induced pluripotent stem cells and to differentiate them into cells that can be used to repair damaged tissue and treat disease."

Link: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-04/uoc--utc040809.php

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