A team headed by Doug Melton (left), who works for both the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and Howard Hughes Medical Institute has succeeded in transforming the function of cells, simply by injecting them with new genes.
One scientist said "it turns the entire field on its head."
Melton writes on his personal page that he first got involved in stem cell research after his son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes in 1993.
"When my son Sam was diagnosed, I did what any parent would do: I asked myself, 'What can I do?'"
You done good, Doc.
The gene therapy was performed on mice, whose usefulness as test animals is based on their similarity to human beings. Pancreas cells were induced to produce insulin after being injected with viruses containing insulin-producing genes.
The diabetes community is most over-the-moon about this, but it's a general technique that could also be applied to other conditions, like heart disease and ALS.
Transforming cells through the injection of genes is a very big deal. While it will take some time to prove, and even more time to reach the market, it's a true medical revolution.
That sort of thing doesn't happen every day.