Mature Skin Cells Yield Stem Cells

With all the controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells, a new method of reprogramming adult cells could be one answer to the stem cell issue. And it couldn’t be more convenient. One day, you may look no farther than your own skin as a source of embryonic stem cells. Whitehead Institute scientists have transformed mature mouse skin cells into stem cells that are identical to embryonic stem cells in all ways. The genetically manipulated skin cells become embryonic stem cells without involving eggs or embryos.

Previously, it was thought that mature, differentiated cells could not act as unspecialized adult stem cells, and certainly not like embryonic stem cells. That is, scientists did not think that mature cells were capable of forming any, much less every, other cell type of the body. There was no evidence that a differentiated cell could do this. However, the genetically-manipulated mature mouse skin cells contradict that idea.

“These reprogrammed cells … are indistinguishable from embryonic stem cells,” said Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Rudolf Jaenisch, senior author of the research. The genetically-modified cells have been shown to contribute to every kind of tissue, and have even developed into a mouse embryo. The DNA of the reprogrammed cells can also be transmitted to the next generation of mice, because the DNA was even found in the germ cells.

Researchers hope that one day they will be able to make versatile, therapeutic human stem cells from a simple skin biopsy.

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Comments

  1. This is a really good article and very interesting it just caught my eye when i skimmed through this.

  2. Great, stem cells not involving embryos.

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