Stem-Cells-Bring-Along-Defe

Stem-Cells-Bring-Along-Defe

Realistic stem cell therapies to replace diseased or damaged tissue may still be years away, but researchers have uncovered a promising new use for these undifferentiated cells: they can be programmed to become patient-specific laboratory models of inherited liver disease. These new tools could be useful for teasing out disease mechanisms and testing new drug therapies.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Medical Research obtained skin cells from 10 patients—seven who had various forms of inherited liver disease, and three healthy controls. They reprogrammed the skin cells, rejuvenating them into an embryolike state (using the four-gene approach described in 2007). The researchers then cultured these so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) in a mixture of chemical factors that triggered their conversion into liver cells, which had the appearance and functional properties of native liver cells.

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