Stem cell study could aid quest to combat range of diseases

Jun 03, 2013

Scientists have taken a vital step forward in understanding how cells from skin tissue can be reprogrammed to become stem cells.

New research could pave the way to generate these efficiently to better understand and develop treatments for diseases such as , Parkinson's disease and muscular degeneration.

The study of how these cells – known as induced (iPSCs) – were reprogramed was led by the University of Edinburgh and is published in the journal Nature.

Scientists found that the process by which iPSCs are created is not simply a reversal of how are generated in normal human development.

Researchers made the discovery by tracking the change of skin cells during the reprogramming process.

All cells in the human body begin life as a mass of cells, with the capacity to change into any specialised cell, such as skin or muscle cell.

By returning adult cells to this original state and recreating the cell type needed for treatment scientists hope to find ways of tackling diseases such as MS, in which cells become faulty and need to be replaced.

Scientists have been able to create stem cells in this way since 2006 but, until now, it has not been clear how 'forget' their specialised roles to be reprogrammed by scientists.

Experts say that current methods of iPSCs production are time consuming and costly. It takes around four weeks to make human stem cells and even then the process does not always work.

Researchers say that their new insight will enable them to streamline the stem cell production process. The finding may also shed light on how to create different cell types – like muscle or – that can be used to improve our understanding of diseases and treatment.

Dr Keisuke Kaji, of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, said: "As exciting as this technology is, we still know very little about how cell reprogramming actually works. Using a new technique, we have improved our understanding of the process. Our work marks an exciting step towards ensuring that induced pluripotent stem cells technology will meet its full potential."

Explore further: Researchers find protein necessary for fertility performs different roles in sperm, eggs

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mapping a route to stem cell therapies

May 20, 2013

Monash University researchers are shedding light on the complex processes that underpin the creation and differentiation of stem cells, bringing closer the promise of 'miracle' therapies.

Recommended for you

In a role reversal, RNAs proofread themselves

Jan 29, 2015

Building a protein is a lot like a game of telephone: information is passed along from one messenger to another, creating the potential for errors every step of the way. There are separate, specialized enzymatic ...

Growing functioning brain tissue in 3D

Jan 29, 2015

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan have succeeded in inducing human embryonic stem cells to self-organize into a three-dimensional structure similar to the cerebellum, providing ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.