This is potentially huge: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, which permit tailor made, patient specific pluripotent stem cell lines to be created ethically without the use of embryos, can now be made without using genetic material. From the story, “Purely Protein Pluripotency,” in The Scientist (no link):
Researchers have attained the holy grail of cellular reprogramming: inducing pluripotency without using any DNA-based materials. Using only a cocktail of purified proteins and a chemical additive, investigators have generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that don’t carry the potential burden of unexpected genetic modifications, according to a new study published online today (Apr. 23) in Cell Stem Cell.
“This new advancement is both exciting and startling,” Huck-Hui Ng, a stem cell researcher at the Genome Institute of Singapore who was not involved in the study, said in an email. “Now, cell reprogrammers are armed with a potentially genome-safe method to make pluripotent stem cells.
And now a new name has come into the lexicon: Protein Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (PIPSC:
Although the technique was much less efficient than virus-based approaches–0.006% compared to 0.067% using Yamanaka’s original method–these reprogrammed cells, dubbed “protein-induced pluripotent stem cells,” or piPS cells, passed all the benchmarks of pluripotency both in vitro and in vivo. Ding’s team also showed that they could do away with one of the proteins, c-Myc, although this further reduced the already poor reprogramming efficiency by about a third.
“This is the first proof of principle demonstration that [protein induction] actually works,” Ding told The Scientist. Now, stem cell researchers and protein biochemists “will jump on this and substantially improve” the method. Ding also said that he has unpublished results showing that piPS cells can be generated from adult mouse and human fibroblasts.
Good science and good ethics: It is a wonder to behold.
But the New York Times still wants human cloning. After all, stem cells are not the final destination. They are just the launching pad.