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Today’s big news is “induced pluripotent stem cells.” Google News comes up with more than 1,000 hits from sources as varied as the Miami Herald to USA Today. Following is a portion of the original release:

The ability to efficiently generate patient-specific stem cells from differentiated cells and then reliably direct them to form specialized cells (like neurons or muscle) has tremendous therapeutic potential for replacing diseased or damaged tissues. However, despite some successes, there have been significant limitations associated with existing methods used to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

Now, a study published by Cell Press on September 30th in the journal Cell Stem Cell presents a novel strategy for creating iPSCs that exhibits some significant advantages when compared with current iPSC technologies. The new method does not require risky genetic modification and holds great promise for making the reprogramming process more therapeutically relevant.

“Clinical application of iPSCs is currently hampered by low efficiency of iPSC generation and protocols that permanently alter the genome to effect cellular reprogramming,” explains senior study author, Dr. Derrick J. Rossi from Harvard Medical School. “Perhaps even more importantly, safe and effective means of directing the fate of patient-specific iPS cells towards clinically useful cell types are lacking.”

In the current study, Dr. Rossi and colleagues did not take the standard approach to permanently alter the genome to achieve expression of protein factors known to reprogram adult cells into iPSCs. Instead, they developed synthetic modified messenger RNA molecules (which they termed “modified RNAs”) that encoded the appropriate proteins but did not integrate into the cell’s DNA.

Original release is here.

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