Stem Cell Advance

The Harvard Stem Cell Institute said yesterday that it is one step closer to creating induced pluripotent stem cells that would be safe for human use.

Konrad Hochedlinger and other scientists from HSCI, Mass. General Hospital and the Joslin Diabetes Center announced that they have created mouse iPS cells using adenoviruses, according to a press release.

Researchers have previously attempted to create iPS cells using retroviruses, though it was feared these could activate cancer genes.

Adenoviruses do not implant in the DNA of their human host and, thus, pose a reduced threat of cancer. Thus far, none of the mice in the study have shown any sign of tumor growth.

Pluripotent stem cells can potentially create any human cell. Those of the induced variety are lauded for not involving the use of controversial embryonic cells and are believed to have therapeutic uses.

Hochedlinger and his team have therefore proven that viruses do not need to be integrated into the human genome in order to create iPS cells, according to the release.

He said he hopes to make the leap to working with human specimens in order to test whether iPS cells may serve as a substitute for embryonic stem cells.

—KATHERINE A. PETTI

For recent research, faculty profiles, and a look at the issues facing Harvard scientists, check out The Crimson's science page.