October 1, 2009 - Cordbloodcordbank.com reports on the Salk Institute’s announcement that researchers have successfully reprogrammed cord blood stem cells to function like embryonic stem cells. As reported by Science Daily, the institute’s study results are significant because they identify cord blood as a convenient source of versatile stem cells with theoretically limitless potential, but without the controversy of embryonic stem cells.
Traditionally, embryonic stem cells have been the focus of scientific interest because they are considered "pluripotent." Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to generate all of the various cell types in the body. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) are non-controversial because they are created by collecting tissue from child or adult tissue and then genetically modifying the cells to behave like embryonic cells with pluripotent characteristics.
According to Juan-Carolos Izpisua Belmonte, Ph.D., a professor in the Salk Institute’s Gene Expression Laboratory who led the study, "Cord blood stem cells could serve as a safe, "ready-to-use" source for the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), since they are easily accessible, immunologically immature and quick to return to an embryonic stem cell-like state."
Individuals who have banked their baby’s cord blood stem cells for their own use could be among the first to have access to a wide range of potential new treatments as they become available.