News & AnalysisSTEM CELLS

Immune Reactions Help Reprogram Cells

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Science  02 Nov 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6107, pp. 590
DOI: 10.1126/science.338.6107.590

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When under threat, it pays to be flexible. That may explain why scientists have been able to use viruses to reprogram differentiated cells into stem cells, an advance that was recognized as part of this year's Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. A U.S. research team reports that a cell's defensive reaction to viruses seems to make it more open to expressing genes that are usually shut down—whether they trigger inflammation or are active in stem cells. The find could help scientists better understand how cellular reprogramming works, and may also help them develop more efficient and safer ways to reprogram cells.