Documenting the Coming Singularity

Monday, August 03, 2009

Presto Change-o - Making any cell become any other cell

Editor's Note: A brave new world is opening up, where scientists can program cells to become other kinds of cells, hence turning skin cells into stem cells and making entire mice. This article concerns the transformation of blood cells into vision cells.

Science Daily - August 3, 2009

University of Florida researchers were able to program bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged retinas in mice, suggesting a potential treatment for one of the most common causes of vision loss in older people.

The success in repairing a damaged layer of retinal cells in mice implies that blood stem cells taken from bone marrow can be programmed to restore a variety of cells and tissues, including ones involved in cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.

"To our knowledge, this is the first report using targeted gene manipulation to specifically program an adult stem cell to become a new cell type," said Maria B. Grant, M.D., a professor of pharmacology and therapeutics at UF's College of Medicine. "Although we used genes, we also suggest you can do the same thing with drugs — but ultimately you would not give the drugs to the patient, you would give the drugs to their cells. Take the cells out, activate certain chemical pathways, and put the cells back into the patient."

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