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Stem cell LEPROSY tip-off
Not since the era of Galenic medicine could anyone have suggested a dose of leprosy as the cure for any degenerative disorder. However, harnessing the sophisticated survival techniques of pathogens is a fertile avenue for therapeutics. The discovery that leprosy bacteria can reprogram cells to a stem cell-like state may also help circumnavigate some of the ethical questions that have dogged embryonic stem cells too. Masaki and colleagues were able to demonstrate that leprosy hijacks the host's genomic plasticity to reprogram adult Schwann cells by downregulating differentiation-associated genes and upregulating genes for mesoderm development. This results in cells that are highly plastic, migratory and immunomodulatory.
The most ambitious questions deserve the largest and most sophisticated studies. Can we stop Alzheimer's disease in its very early stages? A hundred and …
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