UCLA researchers explore cutting edge of stem cells – Stem Cell Cafe

Skin cells can be reprogrammed into the type of stem cells that can grow into any tissue, bone or body part in a process that doesnt involve human eggs or embryos, a UCLA researcher told scientists and students Friday at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks.

William Lowry, a professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology, was part of the first research team in California that reprogrammed adult stem cells into the pluripotent cells that are naturally found in embryos. Because they can grow into any kind of human cell and can also replicate themselves, pluripotent stem cells may one day be used to replaced injured or diseased cells or to create new medicines.

In theory you should be able to make them from anybody, at any time of life, from any tissue, he said of reprogramming at a CLU symposium Friday on new stem cell research.

Reprogramming avoids the controversies triggered by using stored embryos for stem cells, although embryonic cells are still part of the ongoing research at UCLA. It also opens the possibility of allowing researchers to use a persons own skin cells to create embryonic-like stem cells that could be used to treat that same persons injury or illness.

The tailor-made cells should eliminate the risk of the body identifying the new cells as foreign entities and rejecting them, Lowry said.

His research is aimed at using reprogrammed stem cells to recreate a disease in a petri dish, allowing researchers to better understand why certain illnesses kill specific kinds of cells. The studies could lead to new medicines and better ways to assess the effectiveness of new drugs.

But there are barriers. Scientists are still figuring out how to make a disease created in a laboratory that acts the same way as, say, how Lou Gehrigs disease affects nerve cells in the brain. Theyre trying to understand how the reprogrammed cells march through development. Early efforts have produced the kind of cells that would come from fetuses but not from adults.

Were not able to make cells that were born 60 years ago, he said.

The symposium focused on research at UCLA. Professor Hanna Mikkola leads a team studying how to turn pluripotent stem cells that are reprogrammed or come from early-stage embryos into blood stem cells.

The goal is to create cells tailored for a specific person in a process that could potentially help find cures to inherited diseases like sickle cell anemia. The scientists have had the most success in figuring out how to disrupt the process of making a blood stem cell.

Read more:
UCLA researchers explore cutting edge of stem cells – Stem Cell Cafe

Related Post