Studies Cast Doubt on Plasticity of Adult Cells

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Science  15 Mar 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5562, pp. 1989-1991
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5562.1989

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Numerous reports have suggested that adult stem cells can morph into many types of cells, raising hopes that adult cells could eventually be used to treat diseases--without the ethical baggage that accompanies human embryonic stem cells. Now two papers in this week's early online publication of Nature suggest that some of the surprising plasticity of adult stem cells might be explained by simple cell fusion, not "reprogramming." The new evidence does not explain away all of the potential of adult stem cells, but it does raise a caution.