Scientists “reprogramme” skin cells to create embryonic stem cells

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 29 November 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:1112
  1. Geoff Watts
  1. London

    Last week's announcement that human embryonic stem cells have been successfully created by reprogramming skin cells (making them behave like embryonic stem cells) was welcomed by those scientists and others who had harboured ethical doubts about an enterprise that had previously depended on embryos.

    But although stem cell scientists share this enthusiasm, they go on to point out that the new technique, in its current form, is potentially hazardous. This issue will have to be dealt with before reprogramming can be applied in clinical medicine.

    At present the principal source of human embryonic stem cells is the pool of early embryos that are surplus to the requirements of women undergoing in vitro fertilisation. Reprogramming dispenses with the need for embryonic material. It …

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