Three years ago, scientists developed a technique to reprogram adult human cells into stem cells, which could then be studied like embryonic stem cells. Hailed as one of the biggest scientific breakthroughs of the decade, it gave researchers access to embryo-like cells while avoiding the sticky ethical issues that accompany the use of cells from human embryos. However, the method for making iPS cells is not only highly inefficient, but poses a risk for cancer.
But now, in a game-changing scientific breakthrough, Children’s Hospital Boston researchers have discovered a new way to reprogram cells into stem cells, using RNAs, which appears safer and much more efficient than current methods—and can much more readily transform stem cells into specialized cells to treat disease. What does this mean for patients and families who might benefit from stem cell research? Check out Children’s new science and innovation blog, Vector, for a more detailed discussion. For a primer on stem cell science, take a peek at Children’s stem cell website.