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MANAGING STEM CELLS

ANCHOR LEAD: GAINING CONTROL OF THE PATHWAYS BY WHICH CELLS REVERT TO STEM CELLS MAY AID THEIR DEVELOPMENT, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS

Stem cell researchers are very excited by their ability to develop this cell type from cells that are already formed, a kind of moving the clock backwards.  Yet the process is quite challenging, and only a very few stem cells are actually formed in large batches of cells grown in the laboratory.  Erika Matunis, a cell biology expert at Johns Hopkins, uses sperm stem cells, which seem to revert naturally depending on their environment, to understand the process better.

MATUNIS:  We know that when you reprogram things in culture that its very very inefficient, and that the reprogramming is not perfect, so given that, in our system we don’t even know when these cells do this reversal, and we get stem cells that had started to differentiate, we don’t know yet if those new stem cells are just as good as the old ones or if there are any differences, that’s a question we haven’t been able to answer yet.                       :22

Matunis says when a more complete understanding develops the process may be easier to facilitate.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.


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