Scientists who found a safe way to transform skin cells into stem cells say their achievement is an important step forward in making grow-in-a-dish transplant tissue available to patients.
The researchers used four introduced genes to reprogram skin cells to become indistinguishable from stem cells, Agence France Presse reported. The results, published online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, are so promising that the scientists hope to begin clinical trials by the middle of 2010.
"This is the first safe method of generating patient-specific stem cells," study author Robert Lanza, chief scientific officer at Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine International, told AFP. "This technology will soon allow us to expand the range of possible stem cell therapies for the entire human body."
He added that this method "allows us to generate the raw material to solve the problem of rejection (by the immune system) so this is really going to accelerate the field of regenerative medicine."