Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Reprogramming and Unicorns

CIRM President Alan Trounson has weighed in on some of the issues that attend the reprogramming of adult stem cells.

In a piece in the December 2008 issue of Cell Stem Cell entitled "Rats, Cats, and Elephants, but Still No Unicorn: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from New Species," Trounson noted that reprogramming is likely to attract attention from animal conservationists trying to preserve endangered species.

On the human front, he wrote,
"No matter how similar mouse, rat, and human iPSCs might be, it remains to beseen whether the usefulness of human iPSCs can be established, given the presence of viral sequences and of multiple copies of the transcription factors in potentially unregulated sites in the human genome. Regulatory agencies are likely to consider these lines to be genetically engineered and will consequently hold them to a very high bar in order to establish safety for use in human therapy. On the other hand, the potential availability of riPSCs for modeling human diseases will be very attractive to researchers and companies involved in drug discovery, as the mouse has often proven inadequate as a model for candidate therapeutics."

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