reporgrmng cells opt rd 1

reporgrmng cells opt rd 1 - Breakthrough of the Year...

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1 19 DECEMBER 2008 VOL 322 SCIENCE www.sciencemag.org 1766 THIS YEAR, SCIENTISTS ACHIEVED A LONG-SOUGHT FEAT OF CELLULAR alchemy. They took skin cells from patients suffering from a variety of diseases and reprogrammed them into stem cells. The transformed cells grow and divide in the laboratory, giving researchers new tools to study the cellular processes that underlie the patients’ diseases. The achievement could also be an important step on a long path to treating diseases with a patient’s own cells. The feat rests on a genetic trick, first developed in mice and described 2 years ago, in which scientists wipe out a cell’s developmental “mem- ory,” causing it to return to its pristine embryonic state and then regrow into something else. In 2008, researchers achieved another milestone in cell reprogramming. In an elegant study in live mice, they prompted cells to make the leap directly from one mature cell into another—flouting the usual rule that development of cells is a one-way street. These and other advances in tweaking cells to assume new identities add up to make the now flourishing field of cellular reprogramming Science ’s Breakthrough of the Year. This year’s breakthroughs have done much to wipe out memories of a major scandal that erupted 3 years ago, after scientists in South Korea fraudulently claimed to have used somatic cell nuclear transfer—the technique used to clone Dolly the sheep—to generate stem cells from patients suffering from type 1 diabetes, spinal cord injury, and a congenital immune disease. The debacle dealt the field a huge setback; patient-specific stem cells seemed like a distant prospect. The new developments build on two previous breakthroughs. Ten years ago last month, scientists in Wisconsin announced that they had cultured human embryonic stem (hES) cells— cells with the potential to form any cell type in the body. That power, known as pluripotency, opened up a world of possibilities in developmental biology and medical research, but it came with baggage: Because isolating the cells typically destroys the embryo, the research sparked fierce debates over bioethics. In many countries, including the United States, political decisions limited the work scientists could do with hES cells. In 2006, Japanese researchers reported that they had found a possi- ble way around the practical and ethical questions surrounding hES cells. By introducing just four genes into mouse tail cells growing in a lab dish, they could pro- duce cells that looked and acted very much like ES cells. They called these cells induced pluripo- tent stem (iPS) cells. Last year, in a development recognized as the first runner-up in Science ’s
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This note was uploaded on 10/07/2009 for the course GEN 409 taught by Professor Linda during the Fall '09 term at Iowa State.

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reporgrmng cells opt rd 1 - Breakthrough of the Year...

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