Researchers make stem cell discovery by studying tissue stress and repair

GWEN IFILL: Todays news of a breakthrough in stem cell research captured the attention of scientists around the world.

For years, researchers have been investigating how to get adult stem cells to behave more like embryonic ones, which would allow them to be developed into almost any organ or tissue. The findings announced today involve a simple treatment, immersing adult mouse cells in a mild acid bath. As seen here, mouse embryos were grown with beating heart cells derived from this process.

Dr. Charles Vacanti was one of the lead researchers from the team at Brigham and Womens Hospital. And he joins me now.

Dr. Vacanti, this is kind of amazing. Are you explaining are you telling us youre making stem cells, instead of finding them?

DR. CHARLES VACANTI, Brigham & Womens Hospital: That is correct. And we believe were doing exactly whats being done in the body when you normally have an injury.

GWEN IFILL: So how did you come about this?

CHARLES VACANTI: Its been a long process.

I started working with this with my brother Martin about 15 years ago, first looking for a better cell to use in tissue engineering. And in 2001, we described a stem cell that we thought we had found, and several years later, we started to wonder, rather than finding the cell, were we making the cell with the harsh environment of the isolation process?

GWEN IFILL: And thats the acid bath I was just referring to?

CHARLES VACANTI: Yes.

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Researchers make stem cell discovery by studying tissue stress and repair

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