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“Stem cells: Close encounters with full potential” & “Deterministic direct reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency”
According to last week’s edition of Nature, a major breakthrough in the world of stem cell research may be exactly what biotechnologists need to take the next step with stem cell therapy. Scientists found the primary negative influence that prevents differentiated cells from acquiring stem cell potential. Since mature, differentiated cells require so much coercion to transform into another cell, the majority of stem cell research depends on fetal stem cells, which have not yet chosen their paths. These researchers found that preventing the protein Mbd3 from entering the cell conversion process allowed them to convert differentiated cells to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) with greatly improved accuracy. They were able to reprogram skin, blood, and brain cells of mice, as well as human cells by simply deleting the one protein from the transcription process. These findings not only enhance our knowledge of the differentiation mechanism, but also greatly increase the potential for easily converting differentiated cells to stem cells for use in rehabilitation or treatment in humans.