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How to Make Embryonic Stem Cells without Embryos
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 @ 7:30 PM-9:00 PM
R. Michael Roberts, Ph.D., Curators’ Professor of Animal Science, Biochemistry, and Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri – Columbia, Christopher S. Bond Life Sciences Center
Photo: Michael Roberts(R) and colleague Toshihiko Ezashi(L). Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) are pluripotent, that is they have the potential to develop into more than one type of mature cell, and can theoretically give rise to all the tissue of the body. They have enormous therapeutic potential as agents to replace worn out or damaged tissues, but the safety of such cells and the likelihood that they will be rejected as “foreign” raise questions about their eventual utility. Recently, pluripotent cells very similar to ES cells have been obtained by “re-programming” ordinary skin cells, raising the possibility that the graft cells can be matched to the patient. Nevertheless, safety of the technology is still a major concern, as the cells may become cancerous after transfer. In Dr. Michael Roberts’ laboratory at the University of Missouri – Columbia, they are deriving such induced pluripotent stem cells from pig, with the view to testing the safety and efficacy of transplants in a large mammal whose anatomy, physiology, and immune system resemble those of the human. It’s a fascinating look at science on the frontiers of biochemistry.
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