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Some Stem Cell Firsts by Children’s Researchers

  • The first to transform embryonic stem cells (ESCs) from mice into blood stem cells, showing that these cells can be manipulated in the lab to create different kinds of tissues.
  • The first, together with the Whitehead Institute, to successfully correct a genetic defect (an immune deficiency) in mice, by combining gene repair with the use of ESCs.
  • The first to create genetically matched ESCs in mice by using an unfertilized egg and a technique known as parthenogenesis, a potential alternative way to create cell-based therapies without concerns about immune rejection.
  • The first to show that a protein abundant in ESCs, called LIN28, can transform cells to a cancerous state, strongly supporting the idea that cancer is often a disease of stem cells, offering a possible new target to attack in cancer.
  • One of the first three centers worldwide to create human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which look and act like embryonic stem cells, and can potentially form any cell type in the body.
  • The first to create a repository of iPS cells from patients with specific diseases.
  • The first to find a small-molecule drug that can induce adult stem cell
    production (in this case blood stem cells). The drug, known as PGE2, is also the first drug identified using zebrafish to go to clinical trial.