Monday, October 20, 2008

Recent advances in induced pluripotent stem cell research

It seems like there is a new breakthrough in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell research every week or so. Below are a few of the more recent advances in research that creates pluripotent stem cells (the same property coveted in embryonic stem cells) without killing human embryos.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that researchers at the Salk Institute for Biomedical Research were able to drastically improve the efficiency of creating induced pluripotent stem cells by using hair cells.

Reuters reports that Harvard scientists have found a shortcut in producing iPS cells from ordinary skin cells. Scientists replaced two of the four genes in the usual process with a chemical. This new process could overcome concerns that potential iPS cell treatments would promote cancer.

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Japanese researchers have been able to reprogram adult cells in mice to become pluripotent stem cells without using viruses. The article notes the new method appears to be an improvement on earlier techniques. This research doesn't require the killing of human embryos.