Chinese scientists take lead in developing "omnipotent cells"
November 26, 2007
On the morning of November 21, two research teams – one from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the United States (US), and the other from Japan 's Kyoto University – both announced a new development in stem cell research. The US team is led by Yu Junying, a Chinese scientist who graduated from Beijing University . Both research teams applied genetic rescheduling technology. They used this technology to implant a group of four genes into skin cells and endowed the skin cells with embryonic stem cell functions by rescheduling the genes.
These kinds of cells are known as "iPS cells." By using these cells, scientists hope to avoid the ethical controversy in embryonic stem cell research; and promote the research of stem cell therapy on disease. The two research teams implanted genes of slightly different composition. And they used different types of human skin cells. Whereas the American research team used fibroblasts; the Japanese group chose facial skin cells. Experiments show that "iPS cells" and embryonic stem cells function similarly. "iPS" cells can now be translated into a variety of human cells.
Both research groups said they will continue to study these "imitating embryonic stem cells" in order to determine if significant differences exist between these cells and genuine embryonic stem cells in clinical applications. They believe that it is still too early to halt human embryonic stem cell research because humans are a long way from applying "iPS cells" to practical situations. Scientific community gives high marksThe two research teams published their respective reports in two authoritative scientific journals. The US report was published in "Science" magazine. The research team is led by Chinese scientist Yu Junying. The Japanese team, led by Professor Shinya Yamanaka, published their report in "Cell" magazine.
Robert Lanza, chief scientist of the American Institute of Advanced Technology – an institute engaged in human embryo cloning technology – said: "This study is a remarkable scientific milestone. It is comparable to the invention of the first aircraft by the Wright Brothers in the field of biology.
"British scientist Ian Wilmut, "midwife" of the world's first cloned sheep called Victoria , stated: "Now we can imagine an era in which we can create stem cells in a simple way and produce any organs by using specimens from any human organism."On the phone with Yu JunyingOn the morning of November 21, reporters contacted Chinese scientist Dr. Yu Junying. Dr. Yu said that the breakthrough is in fact the beginning of a broader study on the use of human cells. Yu Junying graduated from Beijing University and became a student of the University of Pennsylvania in the United States in 1997. After graduating in 2003, she received a position at the Thomson Laboratory of the University of Wisconsin at Madison , and started a new project on stem cell research. According to Yu, there are other Chinese researchers on the team.
By People's Daily Online