Adult Cells “Drink” Chemical Cocktail, Become Stem Cells
In 2005, Dr. Shinya Yamanak reported that the addition of four genes could "turn back the clock" on adult cells to become embryonic-like stem cells, known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Significantly, iPS cells are patient-specific, renew indefinitely, and can become any of the body's other cell types. This method, while opening up an entire new field of research, introduces new, potentially cancer-causing genes into the cells, limiting clinical application.
To overcome this caveat, scientists have been fine-tuning the reprogramming process to procure iPS cells without added genes. Reported in Science, a Chinese group discovered how the right chemical combination can change skin cells into pluripotent stem cells, or CiPS. As researchers further refine this chemicals-only approach, these CiPS could be applied to various regenerative medicine applications.