Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Missed Stem Cell Paper

In all the hubbub last week about the skin cell reprogramming paper, I think everyone overlooked a report that actually may be more important in the long run - and to me it was more interesting.

A year or so ago a young faculty at Harvard named Kevin Eggan showed us how to reprogram mouse somatic cells by fusing them with egg cells. Now, he has another way of reprogramming mouse cells. This time, his group has been able to reprogram cells that are in the process of dividing. Check the Nature article here. By the way, Dr. Eggan is a really nice guy. We met at a stem cell meeting in San Diego a couple of years ago and he took a bunch of (poor) grad students out for drinks one night.

Why are these important? In both cases, the reprogramming occurred when the nuclear envelop was broken down. Scientists have hypothesized (there is a rather large bandwagon now) that reprogramming depends more on the epigenetic factors than the code itself. Actually, it is fair to say this theory is on its way to dogma. The thing is, we hardly understand HOW this happens. I'm placing my bets that the King of the Nerds will figure it out at some point.

In the mean time, it seems like breaking down the nuclear envelop is the way to go - either by cell fusion or by messing with the cells when they are in mitosis.

Don't forgetthat this is in the mouse! No human cell has yet been reprogrammed.

No comments: