Scientists say that for the first time they have been able to convert skin cells into pluripotent stem cells by activating the cell’s own genes. The team reportedly used a type of CRISPRa gene editing technology that does not cut DNA and can activate gene expression without mutating the genome. Up till now, reprogramming has only been possible by introducing the critical genes for the conversion, called Yamanaka factors, artificially into skin cells where they are not normally active.

The study (“ Human pluripotent reprogramming with CRISPR activators ”) is published in Nature Communications.

“ CRISPR-Cas9 -based gene activation (CRISPRa) is an attractive tool for cellular reprogramming applications due to its high multiplexing capacity and direct targeting of endogenous loci. Here we present the reprogramming of primary human skin fibroblasts into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) using CRISPRa, targeting endogenous  OCT4 ,  SOX2 ,  KLF4 ,  MYC , and  LIN28A …