Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lead into Gold?

In an unprecedented feat of biological alchemy, researchers have turned human skin cells into stem cells that hold the same medical promise as controversial embryonic stem cells.

Two teams of researchers -- one led by Kyoto University's Shinya Yamanaka, the other by the University of Wisconsin's Junying Yu -- used a virus to add four new genes to skin cells. Thus transformed, the reprogrammed cells became capable of changing into nearly any cell type in the human body. Embryonic stem cells also have this ability, and may someday be used to cure degenerative diseases, grow new organs and even replace limbs.

"It's a new era for stem cells," said Robert Lanza, chief science officer of Advanced Cell Technologies, a cloning company in California. "It's the holy grail. It's like turning lead into gold."


Read the rest of the Wired News story.

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