Today, new studies by two research groups were published in leading peer-reviewed scientific journals, Cell and Science, demonstrating for the first time that human skin cells can be transformed into embryonic stem cell-like cells. The groups of Drs. Thomson (Madison, WI) and Yamanaka (Kyoto, Japan) achieved this feat through a process known as ‘reprogramming’ that involves introduction of selected ‘pluripotency’ genes into the skin cells. These studies build on the earlier work of Dr. Yamanaka’s group published in 2006 that described this phenomenon in the mouse.
The technology used to create these cells, induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells, holds great promise for creating patient- and disease-specific pluripotent stem cells for both research purposes and longer-term possible clinical use. However, a great deal of work remains before these methods could generate safe and effective therapies.
The ISSCR congratulates Drs. Thomson and Yamanaka and their research teams for this important step forward. Dr. George Daley, ISSCR president, comments, “These are landmark studies, advancing a key technology into human cells. Their current results are a testimony to the speed at which the field of stem cell research is advancing and the drive and excitement in the research community.”
The ISSCR emphasizes that these findings do not obviate the need for research using human embryonic stem cells; rather the different avenues of human stem cell research should be pursued side by side providing complementary information. Indeed, these advances in iPS cell research draw on the many years of embryonic stem cell research. Read the ISSCR Statement on New Advances in Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Research.
For more information on the ISSCR, visit www.isscr.org, or to schedule an interview with an ISSCR stem cell expert, contact Deanna Marchetti, firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-847-509-1944.
The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit membership organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination of information and ideas relating to stem cells, to encourage the general field of research involving stem cells and to promote professional and public education in all areas of stem cell research and application.
20 November, 2007