Researchers Find Safer Way To Create Stem Cells

March 2, 2009

UK (ChattahBox) – Scientists have found a new way to create stem cells out of skin cells, without using viruses, which they hope will offer a safer, alternative method of stem cell creation then human embryos.

The method will replace the use of viruses with genes that can later be removed, taking a great deal of the risk away from stem cell production. The regenerative technique was originally developed by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University in Japan, who used retroviruses to insert four genes into the chromosomes of mouse and human skin cells,  turning back the cells’ developmental clock, but there was a risk of cancer being replicated. The resulting “induced stem cells”, had essentially been turned into embryonic stem cells, able to turn into any of the body’s tissues without  the potentially cancer-triggering genes after it has triggered reprogramming. With this new, safer development, and the possibility of eliminating the need for human embryos, the researchers at the Medical Research Council Center for Regenerative Medicine are hopeful that it could finally gain the support such efforts have always deserved.

“Combining this work with that of other scientists working on stem cell differentiation, there is hope that the promise of regenerative medicine could soon be met,” Ian Wilmut, the head of the Center, said in an official statement.


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