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(April 25, 2012 – Toronto, ON) In a listing of last year’s “red hot papers” according to ScienceWatch, Dr. Samer Hussein’s Nature paper was included among a stellar assemblage of high-impact research.
As published in the prestigious journal last March and through collaborations with Dr. Timo Otonkoski’s laboratory at the University of Helsinki, Dr. Hussein—a post-doctoral researcher in the Nagy lab—identified genetic abnormalities associated with reprogramming adult cells to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The findings give researchers new insights into the reprogramming process, and will help make future applications of stem cell creation and subsequent use safer.
Each year, ScienceWatch looks back at the hottest areas of recent research, and notes the researchers who, according to citations tracked during 2011, recorded the highest numbers of Hot Papers published over the preceding two years.
The team showed that the reprogramming process for generating iPS cells is associated with inherent DNA damage. This damage is detected in the form of genetic rearrangements and copy number variations, or alterations of DNA in which a region of the genome is either deleted or amplified on certain chromosomes. (The variability may either be inherited, or caused by de novo mutation.)
The researchers used a technique called single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array analysis to study stem cell lines, and specifically to compare the number of copy number variations in both early and intermediate-stage human iPS cells with their respective parental, originating cells.
“Our study highlights the need for rigorous characterization of generated iPS lines, which is especially important given that several groups are currently trying to enhance reprogramming efficiency,” says Dr. Hussein. “For example, increasing the efficiency of reprogramming may actually reduce the quality of the cells in the long run, if genomic integrity is not accurately assessed. We now believe that many mutations positively affecting reprogramming are in fact selected for during the process, and we are currently exploring several avenues to minimize this effect.”
ScienceWatch harnesses the Thomson Reuters store of publication and citation statistics to report on trends and performance in basic research. In examining the changing dynamics of the scientific literature—assessing levels of institutional and national output, discerning new patterns in international collaboration, perceiving emergent fields of research—ScienceWatch analysis is based on Thomson Reuters data. Each edition also includes expert commentary on each of four main fields: Biology, Chemistry, Medicine, and Physics. These columns examine highly cited recent papers, new areas of investigation, and the most noteworthy current developments in research.
S.M. Hussein, et al., "Copy number variation and selection during reprogramming to pluripotency," Nature, 471(7336): 58-62, 3 March 2011.

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