Induced pluripotent stem cells without viral vectors
This article was originally published in Scrip
The Japanese team which generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from normal human skin cells last year has developed a new virus-free technique. Professor Shinya Yamanaka and others at Kyoto University successfully transfected mouse embryonic fibroblasts with the requisite genes using plasmids rather than retroviral or lentiviral vectors. These can become integrated into the genome, increasing the risk of cancer. The technique so far has a lower production efficiency and has not been applied to somatic cells. iPS cells behave like embryo-derived stem cells but with none of the ethical and immunogenicity concerns, and may in future be used in novel regenerative therapies.
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