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Trends Biotechnol. 2003 Aug;21(8):354-61.

Teaching cells new tricks.

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Institute of Medical Biochemistry, University of Oslo, PO Box 1112 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway.


The direct conversion of one differentiated cell type into another--a process referred to as transdifferentiation--would be beneficial for producing isogenic (patient's own) cells to replace sick or damaged cells or tissue. Adult stem cells display a broader differentiation potential than anticipated and might contribute to tissues other than those in which they reside. As such, they could be worthy therapeutic agents. Recent advances in transdifferentiation involve nuclear transplantation, manipulation of cell culture conditions, induction of ectopic gene expression and uptake of molecules from cellular extracts. These approaches open the doors to new avenues for engineering isogenic replacement cells. To avoid unpredictable tissue transformation, nuclear reprogramming requires controlled and heritable epigenetic modifications. Considerable efforts remain to unravel the molecular processes underlying nuclear reprogramming and evaluate stable of the changes in reprogrammed cells.

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