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5/2/15 Cover


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Groovy surface changes cells' state

Scientists use physical environment to reprogram cells

Embryonic stem cell-like colonies (stem-cell marker, green) grow on microgrooved surfaces.

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Physical cues may be as important as chemical ones when trying to revert mature cells to ones more like stem cells.

In a new study, published October 20 in Nature Materials, Song Li of the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues grew human skin and mouse ear cells on biological materials with extremely small grooves. Under these conditions the mature cells changed back to an undifferentiated state. Previously scientists used only chemical cues to transform cells in this way.

The new method may offer scientists a more efficient, less hazardous way to reprogram cells, the authors suggest.

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