Scientists at UCLA have successfully reprogrammed human skin cells back to an embryonic-like state, confirming work previously done in Wisconsin and Japan. This research sidesteps ethical roadblocks, since there is no need to destroy human embryos or obtain large quantities of human eggs. "Our reprogrammed human skin cells were virtually indistinguishable from human embryonic stem cells," said Kathrin Plath who headed up the study. The implications could be enormous since by reprogramming the cells, a limitless source of pluripotent, immune-compatible cells would be available for tissue engineering and transplantation. The reprogrammed cells could be coaxed into becoming beta islet cells to treat diabetes, hematopoetic cells to treat leukemia, or motor neuron cells to treat Parkinson's, for example.
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