The prospect of transforming a patient's epithelial cells into vital therapy to treat incurable diseases like Parkinson's is one step closer.
Scientists have devised a safe way to produce stem cells for transplant surgery from epithelial cells, without using human embryos or the potentially harmful viruses used to transfer the special genes that transform normal epithelial cells into stem cells.
Last year, scientists showed that they could genetically engineer embryonic stem cells by introducing a handful of genes into an epithelial cell with the help of a virus, but the resulting stem cells could not be used in medicine for fear that the viral genes could be used. introduce also into the patient. However, according to Professor James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose work has been published in the journal Science, the latest study has shown that it is possible to produce these so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS, for its acronym in English). ) without using viruses and without introducing any foreign genes into embryonic stem cells, using a different technique of genetic engineering.
Many scientists believe that iPS cells, created without the need for human embryos, avoid many of the ethical and moral objections related to the use of embryonic stem cells. Researchers are still working on how to ensure their safety if they are ever used in transplant surgery.
Marion Zatz, from the US National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), said: “This latest discovery of a new method to generate iPS cells without inserting viral vectors into the genetic material of cells, made by Thomson's group, it is an important advance towards safe reprogramming of cells for clinical use.
Source: The Independent Science