Developmental biologists have simplified the recipe for creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which could potentially make the technology safer for clinical treatments. The new method makes it less likely that the cells - which offer hope as tailor-made cures for people with genetic diseases - could cause complications such as cancer.
iPS cells are traditionally made by injecting adult cells with viruses carrying genes for a range of developmental factors, which 'reprogramme' the cells and make them revert to a more primitive developmental state. However, one of these factors, called c-Myc, can cause tumours to form.
Online in Nature, researchers led by Hans Schöler report that a particular adult cell type in mice, called neural stem cells, can be converted to iPS cells by using just two developmental factors instead of the previous four, and without the need for c-Myc viral gene insertion. If the effect can be recreated in human cells it may pave the way for safer application of iPS cells, for research and perhaps clinical treatments.
Hans Scholer (Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine, Münster, Germany)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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