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OSLO, Norway, May 1, 2002 (LSN.ca) – Researchers at the University of Oslo and the biotech company Nucleotech LLC have announced a breakthrough in reprogramming ordinary human skin cells into immune cells without resorting to stem cells at all. While lead researcher Philippe Collas and James Robl oppose restrictions on research, their finding may overturn arguments for the urgency of using human embryos for research.

The team punched holes into mature skin cells and soaked them in a solution made from immune system cells, causing the skin cells to stop functioning as skin cells and take on the characteristics of immune system cells. If fully confirmed, the research could lead to treatments touted by stem cell researchers but using much simpler procedures. “It would be a one-day procedure, in principal,” Robl said. “The patient would come in and give a skin biopsy to the lab to reprogram and the day after you could put the cells back into the patient.”

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