For the first time, researchers have converted fully-differentiated cells in vivo into another type of cell without first reprogramming them to a pluripotent state. The conversion of pancreatic exocrine cells into fully functioning linkurl:beta cells; in living mice is described in a paper to be published tomorrow (August 28) in Nature. "This paper is an important milestone on the road that hopefully leads to the generation of new beta cells from other, more available cell sources, at will," linkurl:Harry Heimberg,; from the Vrije Universiteit Brussels, who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist in an Email. The researchers, led by Harvard Stem Cell Institute co-director, linkurl:Douglas Melton,; gave mice pancreatic injections of a combination of three transcription factors -- Ngn3, Pdx1, and Mafa -- to "flip" the cells into full-fledged beta cells. To find out which transcription factors were needed to reprogram the exocrine cells, the team...

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