In Science this week, a group of Chinese investigators reported on the discovery of a cocktail of small molecules that can induce somatic cells to become pluripotent stem cells. The researchers used a combination of seven drugs to reprogram about 0.2 percent of mouse somatic cells into pluripotent cells that resemble embryonic stem cells. The chemical reprogramming strategy offers a new route to generate functional desirable cell types for clinical applications.
Meanwhile, in Science Translational Medicine, a team led by researchers from the Medical College of Wisconsin discussed the potential for whole-genome sequencing in the clinical setting, as well as the challenges in transitioning the technologies out of the research lab. According to the authors, despite a drop in the cost of genomic sequencing, issues with complex workflows and reimbursement may stymie its use clinically. Few guidelines exist for physicians on how to use genomic data, what data should be shared with patients, and the proper handling and storage of information. And while whole-genome sequencing is likely to improve the practice of medicine, the extent to which it will do so in different settings remains to be seen.