What’s the News: Making stem cells without using embryos can be a difficult process, and scientists have had to cope with numerous failures. But a new discovery may help them home in on what’s missing from their biochemical recipes.
With only seven northern white rhinos left in the world, creating eggs and sperm from stem cells offers the possibility of salvaging some of the species.
What’s the News: In an effort to help preserve endangered rhinos and primates, biologists have converted skin cells taken from the animals into pluripotent stem cells, which can grow into nearly anything, given the right conditions. They might even grow into egg and sperm cells, eventually, the researchers think, suggesting a cell biological route to conservation.
Mouse embyronic stem cells
What’s the News: Reprogrammed stem cells—cells taken from an adult and turned back into stem cells—can be rejected by the body, at least in mice, suggests a new Nature study. Donated tissues and organs are often attacked by a patient’s immune system, since reprogrammed stem cells can be made from a patient’s own skin, researchers had hoped these cells offered a way to avoid such rejection by letting patients, in essence, donate tissue to themselves. But the new finding may be a significant setback to what is a promising line of treatment.