The Niche

Induced pluripotent stem cells display near-mythic flexibility

Induced pluripotent stem cells may be capable of forming any imaginable creature, at least in miniature form. Short of funds and unable to buy fibroblast growth factor (FGF) to study her induced pluripotent stem cells, Sheila Nagin of Yount University decided to try something desperate. A herpetologist colleague had been studying the development of scales, and she added some of his reagents to the mix. To her surprise, the cells grew into what appeared, morphologically, to be embryonic stem cells. When she tried to assessing the cells by injecting them into an immunecompromised mouse, the cells grew, not into the expected teratomas, but into small furry lizards. 

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