Ordinary cells turned into stem cells 'game-changing'

Japanese scientists say they have developed a new process to make stem cells that is simpler and faster than current methods. Sarah Toms reports.

EMBRYONIC FORM: A mouse embryo formed with Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP) cells.

BREAKTHROUGH: Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP) cells.

In experiments that could open a new era in stem cell biology, scientists have found a simple way to change mature animal cells back into an embryonic-like state that allows them to generate many types of tissue.

The research, described as game-changing by experts in the field, suggests human cells could in future be reprogrammed by the same technique, offering a simpler way to replace damaged cells or grow new organs for sick and injured people.

Chris Mason, chair of regenerative medicine bioprocessing at University College London, who was not involved in the work, said its approach in mice was "the most simple, lowest-cost and quickest method" to generate so-called pluripotent cells - able to develop into many different cell types - from mature cells.

"If it works in man, this could be the game changer that ultimately makes a wide range of cell therapies available using the patient's own cells as starting material - the age of personalised medicine would have finally arrived," he said.

The experiments, reported in two papers in the journal Nature this week, involved scientists from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan and Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the United States.

The researchers took skin and blood cells, let them multiply, then subjected them to stress "almost to the point of death", they explained, by exposing them to various events including trauma, low oxygen levels and acidic environments.

One of these "stressful" situations was simply to bathe the cells in a weak acid solution for around 30 minutes.

More here:
Ordinary cells turned into stem cells 'game-changing'

Related Post