In Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the eponymous character’s life trajectory is reversed. Thanks to the pioneering work of Sir John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka, scientists can engender the same fate on mature cells, winding back their clock until they are stem cells once again. Like naturally occurring versions (highly magnified and false-coloured human stem cell pictured) these inducible forms have the potential to regenerate tissue. But as they can be created from any adult cell they are more readily available and a powerful resource for studying the effects of genetic changes on cell fate. Now, providing experts the opportunity to collaborate, the Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Initiative is setting up a ‘stem cell hotel’ at London’s Guy’s Hospital. Funded by the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council, the aim is to accelerate the translation of stem cell research into improved diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Written by Lindsey Goff
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