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July 20, 2010 / Martijn

The Persistence of Memory … in Reprogrammed Cells

Like a Texan who keeps his drawl after moving to California, adult cells reprogrammed to resemble embryonic cells retain some signatures of the tissue from which they came. That message, delivered in two studies published today, is both good news and bad news for researchers who hope to use so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) to study diseases and perhaps some day treat patients.

Techniques that reprogram cells have revolutionized the stem cell field. By turning on a several genes in adult cells, scientists can transform skin or blood cells into stem cells that can become every cell type in the body—without the ethical and practical complications of using embryos or oocytes. These iPS cells are already making it possible to study diseases in new ways, and they raise the hope of someday using a patient’s own cells to treat disease. But as scientists study and use iPS cells, it has become increasingly clear that reprogrammed cells are not exactly like traditional stem cells derived from embryos.

via The Persistence of Memory … in Reprogrammed Cells – ScienceNOW.

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