Leveraging Bank Deposits

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Science  30 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5953, pp. 645
DOI: 10.1126/science.326_645d

Stem cells are essential, yet exceedingly scarce, components of regenerating tissues such as skin and blood. The more broadly useful stem cell—the pluripotent stem cell—can be derived from embryo cells. Remarkably, cells with similar potential can be derived from more specialized cells that have been induced to backtrack under the direction of a suite of four transcription factors. Nevertheless, each of these stem cell sources suffers from distinct problems of availability, utility, and ethics.

Two groups introduce another source of pluripotent stem cells: umbilical cord blood. This blood can be collected fairly easily with little risk to the donor, has suffered less exposure than adult cells to environmental insult, and has found favor in recent years as a source of hematopoietic stem cells. Giorgetti et al. show that pluripotency can be induced, even from previously frozen cord blood bank samples, with the use of only two transcription factors. Haase et al. describe the derivation of pluripotent cells from the endothelial cells of cord blood and demonstrate the differentiation of these into cells similar to cardiomyocytes (shown above with a cardiac-specific isoform of the muscle protein troponin T in red).

Cell Stem Cell 5, 353; 434 (2009).

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