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8/01/2009

Live mice grown from adult stem cells



News today has spread about new stem cell research out of China. Two teams used mouse fibroblasts, a kind of cell found in skin connective tissues, to create induced pluripotent skin cells (iPS), which were then used to create living mice.

... Their breakthrough research suggests that both cloning full animals from stem cells and the creation of completely pluripotent stem cells from skin cells are both not only possible, but a current reality. ...

The first task for either study was to create stem cells from non stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, controversial because they often come from the destruction of live embryos, are what is called "pluripotent," which means they can become any cell in the body. To be able to create cells that act like embryonic stem cells, without the embryo part, opens to door to a fascinating and less-controversial field of medical research, including organ repair or even full organ replacements that are guaranteed to match the host's body. Just imagine never having to look for donors for bone marrow or a heart, and you can get the idea of how amazing this research could be.

...

However, the fact that these stem cells were able to be pluripotent, even 1.1% of the time, gives a lot of hope to future medical research. Indeed, we might just be able to create tissues or organs on demand from a patient's own cells in the next 50 years, which would save the lives of many suffering from a variety of diseases. More interestingly, however, is that these cloned animals may lead to a better understanding of how cells develop, divide, and fail, leading to breakthroughs in prevention and treatments of conditions like cancer instead of just patches to prolong life after the disease has set in.


Have a look over at Observations of a Nerd for lots of details. Wow!

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