More stem cell progress

Scientists report an advance for the iPS technique:

Whitehead Institute researchers have greatly simplified the creation of so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, cutting the number of viruses used in the reprogramming process from four to one. Scientists hope that these embryonic stem-cell-like cells could eventually be used to treat such ailments as Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

The earliest reprogramming efforts relied on four separate viruses to transfer genes into the cells’ DNA. . .  However, this method poses significant risks for potential use in humans. The viruses used in reprogramming are associated with cancer because they may insert DNA anywhere in a cell’s genome, thereby potentially triggering the expression of cancer-causing genes, or oncogenes. For iPS cells to be employed to treat human diseases, researchers must find safe alternatives to reprogramming with such viruses. This latest technique represents a significant advance in the quest to eliminate the potentially harmful viruses.

(Via FuturePundit, via Instapundit.)

The iPS technique is preferred because it does not involve killing embryos, and is also cheaper and easier.  Researchers have long suspected they would be able to get the viruses out of the picture, so this development isn’t surprising.

There is one thing I don’t understand.  Three months ago, Science published a paper showing how to create iPS cells with zero viruses.  So how is one virus progress?  It must be a technical detail that’s not coming out in the press release.

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