Inside Salk - June 2008 - page 5

like the pluripotent human embryonic
stem cells.
“It won’t abolish the need to study
human embryonic stem cells right away,”
cautions Berggren. “A lot of the technical
details for reprogramming still haven’t
been worked out and researchers will need
to perform a lot of experiments side by
side and directly compare hESCs and iPS cells.
“But with reprogramming looking so
promising, this is really the direction we
want to move in for the future,” Berggren
says. “We are planning to establish the
methods here at Salk and individual faculty
members then will be able to take it wherever
they need to.”
We now have the space,
resources and expertise
for Salk researchers to not
only learn how to do stem
cell culture, but to also
carry out experiments
with human embryonic
stem cells.
A simple skin biopsy can serve as
starting material for the generation of iPS
cells, raising the hope that one day
reprogramming might fulfill the promise of
patient specific hESCs in research and
medicine without having to negotiate the
ethical minefield of working with human
eggs and early embryos.
Historically, hESCs have been derived
from the inner cell mass of mammalian
blastocysts – the balls of cells that develop
after fertilization and go on to form a
developing embryo.
Since the initial reports of iPS cells
caused a media stir last November, several
independent studies have confirmed that
reprogramming is a validmethod for
generating human pluripotent stem cells
from adult cells.
To turn regular skin cells into versatile
stem cells, researchers use viral vectors to
slip inside the genes for master regulators
Oct3/4 and SOX2 with varying other genes
to help the process along. After three to
four weeks, a small number of cells will
transmogrify into cells that look and act
Inside Salk June 2008
Its Doors to Salk Researchers
Historically, hESCs have been derived from the inner cell mass of mammalian blastocysts (left). However, recent studies show
that human pluripotent stem cells can also be created by using viruses engineered to carry specific genes to reprogram
adult human cells (such as skin cells) back into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells (right). llustration by Jamie Simon.
Seated at microscope:
Kelly Kamp.
Standing, from left:
Qian “Frank”Wang,
Margaret Lutz, and
Sri Balakrishnan.
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