Third Team Turns Skin Into Stem Cells

First time cells were taken from a volunteer, not lab grown
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2007 4:40 AM CST
This handout photo released by The Whitehead Institute shows a chimeric mouse comprised, in part, of reprogrammed fibroblasts that have contributed to all tissue and cell types. (AP Photo/Sam Ogden via...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A third team of scientists has successfully turn skin cells into stem cells that can be coaxed into becoming any kind of tissue. The American researchers are the first group to manage the feat with a volunteer's cells, not cells grown in a lab, which demonstrates that such cells could be widely available.

The method is still not ready to be utilized to create treatments for humans because it uses retroviruses to transform the skin cells into stem cells, and because stem cells created by this process have been known to cause tumors in mice. Researchers, however, did manage to alter the cells without the cancer gene they believe was responsible for the tumors in earlier experiments.