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Scientists find more efficient, safer way to reprogram cells

By Mark Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Sept. 30, 2010

Almost three years after the first scientists reprogrammed human cells in Madison and Kyoto, Japan, researchers in Boston have developed a new process that appears to eliminate one of the major safety concerns while dramatically increasing the efficiency of the process.

The method, which uses RNA rather than inserted genes, was not only successful in returning adult human cells to the embryonic state, but also in guiding these powerful cells to different fates and even in changing skin cells to muscle cells directly. Such a technology, if proven completely safe, could provide an alternative to embryonic stem cells, allowing scientists to create and bank different cells for therapies, drug testing and the study of diseases.

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