Liver Cells Created From Human Skin
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27 August 2010
Scientists have created liver cells in a lab for the first time using reprogrammed cells from human skin, paving the way for the potential development of new treatments for liver diseases that kill thousands each year.
Cambridge University scientists who reported their results in the Journal of Clinical Investigation on Wednesday, said they also found a way of avoiding the kind of intense political and ethical rows over embryonic stem cells which are currently hampering work in the US. "This technology bypasses the need for using human embryos," said Tamir Rashid of Cambridge’s laboratory for regenerative medicine, who led the study. "The cells we created were just as good as if we had used embryonic stem cells."
Embryonic stem cells are seen as the most powerful and malleable type of cells but are controversial because they are harvested from human embryos when they are just a few days old.
For their study, Rashid’s team took skin samples from seven patients who were suffering from a variety of inherited liver diseases, and three from healthy people to act as comparisons.
They then reprogrammed cells from the skin samples into a kind of stem cell called induced pluripotent stem cells, and then reprogrammed them to generate liver cells which mimicked the broad range of liver diseases in the patients they had come from. They used the same technique to create "healthy" liver cells from the comparison group. REUTERS
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