Scientists Reprogram Adult Cells

Breakthrough could leap embryonic stem-cell quagmire
By Jess Kilby,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 28, 2008 2:20 AM CDT
Scientists Reprogram Adult Cells
Harvard researchers have discovered a way to convert an adult cell within a living animal into an entirely different type of cell, reports the journal Nature.    (Index Open)

In a stunning medical advance, scientists have found a way to transform an adult cell in a living animal into an entirely different type of cell. The development is another step toward freeing the field of regenerative medicine from the controversies of stem-cell research. Harvard biologists discovered three key molecular switches that converted common pancreatic cells in mice into insulin-producing ones that diabetics need, reports the Washington Post.

"One day, this may allow the doctor to replace the scalpel with a sort of genetic surgery," said a researcher, who called such an advance a “holy grail” of medicine. Several experts say stem-cell research that relies on human embryonic cells will continue to be important, but a critic of the practice hailed the breakthrough as a “win-win situation for medicine and ethics.” (More stem cell research stories.)

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