CTV.ca (01/03/2009) – Canadian researchers have found what could be a new way to make embryonic-like stem cells, a discovery that could lead to cures for devastating conditions such as spinal cord injury and Parkinson’s disease…

Previous methods to create embryonic-like stem cells have used a virus to help transform adult cells into pluripotent stem cells — cells that can develop into most other cell types. But those methods carried the risk of damaging the cell’s DNA. With damaged DNA, the cells often became cancerous or led to abnormalities.

This new method, described online in the journal Nature, uses a novel “wrapping” procedure to deliver specific genes to adult cells to reprogram them into stem cells, without damaging the cell’s DNA…

This new simplified method does not require embryos and instead can generate stem cells from many adult tissues, including a patient’s own skin cells, allowing for personalized therapies.

The method, developed by Dr. Andras Nagy, from the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has been dubbed piggyback. It uses a DNA sequence that can move around in a cell to extract the cell’s DNA and transform it into a stem cell. When it’s done the DNA leaves the cell, leaving no trace of itself in the way that viruses sometimes did…

More… (source)

This really is a fascinating approach, and one that makes a lot of sense. Hopefully it will be fruitful in the near future (if all is above board), but take note of the following as well before getting too excited about it:

Bioethics Expert Advises Caution for Pro-life Endorsement of iPS Stem Cell Breakthrough

Advertisements