The two teams involved, led by Dr Keisuke Kaji from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Regenerative Medicine, at the University of Edinburgh, and Dr Andras Nagy from the University of Toronto, are the first to get human skin cells to act like embryonic stem cells without needing to use viruses in the process.
This new method avoids using these potentially harmful viruses. It also allows for four genes inserted to affect cell reprogramming to be removed once this is complete. This should help avoid any abnormalities in how the cells develop.
Dr Nagy's group had developed a reprogramming system that allowed the removal of inserted genes without a trace - but because their method delivered the four genes into different parts of the genome they had not yet managed to remove all of them.
Dr Nagy is a Senior Investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cells and Regeneration