February 26, 2024

Safer method of reprogramming cells

Scripps researcher uses chemical cocktails
Sheng DingAlthough the new technique developed by Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka for creating cells which seem to have the properties of embryonic stem cells without destroying an embryo is very promising, it has one crippling drawback. The so-called induced pluripotent stem cells could turn cancerous. Now researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California have discovered a safer technique for reprogramming cells. Using small drug-like chemicals, they managed to coax mouse brain cells into becoming pluripotent stem cells.

"This shows that we can make cell reprogramming technology much more practical than it has been," says the study’s lead author, Sheng Ding. He believes that chemical cocktails could eventually be used to reprogram cells for cell-based therapies. One cocktail of small molecules would be used to reprogram specialised cells and a second cocktail would differentiate the cell into the type needed to replace diseased cells. "This study is a proof of principle that this kind of approach is possible," he says. ~ Cell News, June 5