The Niche

Human iPS cells without genetic integration: Six reprogramming factors, a plasmid, and a holy grail

For the first time, human skin cells have been reprogrammed to pluripotency without requiring genetic elements to insert themselves into the reprogrammed cells. Though so-called induced pluripotent stem cells promise to be as powerful as embryonic stem cells in their ability to differentiate into all cell types, standard techniques use viruses to insert multiple copies of reprogramming genes into the cells; this makes the cells less predictable, and it creates a higher risk of a cancerous growth. As a result, many laboratories have been racing to publish techniques to reprogram cells without permanent genetic modification. 


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