Friday, October 2, 2009
Researchers at the Salk Institute say they've been able to reprogram cord blood cells to make them very similar to embryonic stem cells.
SAN DIEGO Researchers at the Salk Institute say they've been able to reprogram cord blood cells to make them very similar to embryonic stem cells.
Stem cells can potentially become any tissue in the body, and their therapeutic promise is great. But embryonic stem cells are controversial because you have to destroy embryos to harvest them. And using reprogrammed adult stem cells is not ideal, given the many mutations those mature cells have undergone.
That's why scientists at Salk Institute say their success in reprogramming umbilical cord blood cells into stem cells is significant. Dr. Izpisua Belmonte describes cord blood cells as primitive cells with no mutations. He says they are unique in their ability to be transplanted without being rejected by the person's immune system.
Furthermore, cord blood banks could provide a potentially unlimited supply. Belmonte says this process will require more testing to make sure the stem cells are safe and effective in practice.