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August 7th, 2009
Chinese Research Group Creates Healthy, Fertile Mice From Adult Stem Cells

The mouse is aptly named “Tiny” but his small stature has nothing to do with the large effect this pocket-size rodent is having on the science community, and the world for that matter!

Tiny was born not from a mother but rather he was conceived in a Chinese laboratory, he represents a massive achievement for stem cell research: healthy, fertile animals that are created using pluripotent stem cells (iPS) sourced not from embryonic cells, but rather, cells acquired from adult mice.

The findings have been made public in July’s issue of Nature and spotlighted during a London press conference.  Qi Zhou, the associate director of zoology at the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology at Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences, reckons that to their knowledge its the first time this has been achieved.

The technology used to create the iPS cells was developed three years ago.  These cells are similar in character to adult embryonic stem cells in that they lack the potential to separate into multiple cell types.  They are, therefore, by way of scientific rearing, artificially reprogramed.

The research has concentrated on 37 new lines of iPS cells generated from different mouse backgrounds.  The iPS study is effective in its generation of pups that have been mated as adults.  The adults were fertile enough to supply more than 200 healthy offsprings, which has lead to a third generation of iPS mice.

The research team admits that many unanswered questions and concerns remain, such as analysis results of possible abnormalities among the first generation of iPS mice.  In addition, the study was not created to translate into the human model or application, but it does provide optimism for prospective therapeutic interventions using the patients’ own reprogrammed cells.  As it stands, iPS could become a viable alternative to the currently debatable embryonic stem cell research.

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