Scientists in revolutionary stem cell discovery

Wednesday 29 January 2014 22.31

A "revolutionary" new approach to creating stem cells in the laboratory could open up a new era of personalised medicine, it is claimed.

Scientists have shown it is possible to reprogramme cells into an embryonic-like state simply by altering their environment.

It means in principle that cells can have their developmental clock turned back without directly interfering with their genes - something never achieved before.

The cells become "pluripotent", having the potential ability to transform themselves into virtually any kind of tissue in the body, from brain to bone.

Reprogramming a patient's own cells in this way is seen as the Holy Grail of regenerative medicine.

It raisesthe prospect of repairing diseased and damaged organs with new healthy tissue that will not be rejected by the immune system.

Current methods of performing the same trick involve genetic manipulation, which carries with it a serious risk of triggering cancer.

But the new method described in the journal Nature requires no genetic tweaking.

Scientists simply bathed immature white blood cells from mice in an acidic solution for 25 minutes.

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Scientists in revolutionary stem cell discovery

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