Embryonic stem cells produced in living adult organisms

Sep 11, 2013
Pictured are Manuel Serrano and Maria Abad in his laboratory at the CNIO. Credit: Spanish National Cancer Research Center (CNIO)

A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) has become the first to make adult cells from a living organism retreat in their evolutionary development to recover the characteristics of embryonic stem cells.

Researchers have also discovered that these , obtained directly from the inside of the organism, have a broader capacity for differentiation than those obtained via in vitro culture. Specifically, they have the characteristics of totipotent cells: a primitive state never before obtained in a laboratory.

The study, carried out by CNIO, was led by Manuel Serrano, the director of the Molecular Oncology Programme and head of the Tumoural Suppression Laboratory. The study was supported by Manuel Manzanares's team from the Spanish National Cardiovascular Research Centre (CNIC).

Embryonic are the main focus for the future of regenerative medicine. They are the only ones capable of generating any cell type from the hundreds of cell types that make up an adult organism, so they are the first step towards curing illnesses such as Alzheimer, Parkinson's disease or diabetes. Nevertheless, this type of cell has a very short lifespan, limited to the first days of , and they do not exist in any part of an adult organism.

One of the greatest achievements in recent biomedical research was in 2006 when Shinya Yamanaka managed to create embryonic stem cells (pluripotent stem cells, induced in vitro, or in vitro iPSCs) in a laboratory from , via a cocktail of just four genes. Yamanaka's discovery, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012, opened a new horizon in regenerative medicine.

CNIO researchers have taken another step forward, by achieving the same as Yamanaka, but this time within the same organism, in mice, without the need to pass through in vitro culture dishes. Generating these cells within an organism brings this technology even closer to regenerative medicine.

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A team from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) has become the first to make adult cells from a living organism retreat in their evolutionary development to recover the characteristics of embryonic stem stells. Credit: Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO)

The first challenge for CNIO researchers was to reproduce the Yamanaka experiment in a living being. They chose a mouse as a model organism. Using genetic manipulation techniques, researchers created mice in which Yamanaka's four genes could be activated at will. When these genes were activated, they observed that the adult cells were able to retreat in their to become embryonic stem cells in multiple tissues and organs.

María Abad, the lead author of the article and a researcher in Serrano's group, said: "This change of direction in development has never been observed in nature. We have demonstrated that we can also obtain embryonic stem cells in adult organisms and not only in the laboratory".

Manuel Serrano added that: "We can now start to think about methods for inducing regeneration locally and in a transitory manner for a particular damaged tissue".

Stem cells obtained in mice also show totipotent characteristics never generated in a laboratory, equivalent to those present in human embryos at the 72-hour stage of development, when they are composed of just 16 cells.

In comparison with the cells obtained with the technique developed by Yamanaka, the stem cells obtained by CNIO therefore represent an even earlier embryonic state, with greater capacity for differentiation.

The authors were even able to induce the formation of pseudo-embryonic structures in the thoracic and abdominal cavities of the mice. These pseudo-embryos displayed the three layers typical of embryos (ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm), and extra-embryonic structures such as the Vitelline membrane and even signs of blood cell formation.

"This data tell us that our stem cells are much more versatile than Yamanaka's in vitro iPSCs, whose potency generates the different layers of the embryo but never tissues that sustain the development of a new embryo, like the placenta", said the CNIO researcher.

The authors emphasise that the possible therapeutic applications of their work are still distant, but they admit that, without doubt, it might mean a change of direction for stem cell research, for regenerative medicine or for tissue engineering.

"Our stem cells also survive outside of mice, in a culture, so we can also manipulate them in a laboratory", said Abad, adding that: "The next step is studying if these new stem cells are capable of efficiently generating different tissues such as that of the pancreas, liver or kidney".

Explore further: The developmental on-switch

More information: Paper: dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12586

Provided by Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncologicas (CNIO)

5 /5 (8 votes)

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betterexists
1 / 5 (4) Sep 11, 2013
This is the Greatest thing that I can ever think of! Science Banned in U.s WILL Now THRIVE!
betterexists
1 / 5 (5) Sep 11, 2013
Like Hydra Budding.....Female Uteri are NOT needed anymore....how much Unsurvivable those Pseudos May Be! You will be the First One to have them....Not ME, though! There are Goats, Sheep, Cattle, Pigs, Elephants, Deers, Carnivores READY (NO Choice!) to Carry the LUGGAGE On!......Irrespective of their Gender!.....Real GenderBender Indeed!
betterexists
1 / 5 (3) Sep 11, 2013
Also carry some of those cells into Mouse Uterus through its Vagina!
h20dr
not rated yet Sep 12, 2013
Wow. Amazing discovery!
betterexists
1 / 5 (5) Sep 12, 2013
oH my gAD! oH my gAD! They forgot to insert those ESCs into Body parts of Various Mammalian Genera! Deers, Goats, Sheep, Whales, Cattle, Elephants.... Easier said than Done! They should be pricking at least 100 mice Uterii to start with and get'm Babies/Pups! Any how fun aside this Opens a New Direction to Proceed. The Problem is Privatized Govt. that should be encouraging is deepinsht
betterexists
1 / 5 (5) Sep 13, 2013
"This work is really at the leading edge of an advancing wave of in vivo reprogramming," says so Daly, stem-cell researcher at Boston Children's Hospital not involved with the study in Scientific American article....also re-invokes the term, homunculus in each cell!
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2013
Put Human Adult Cells in Rabbit's Body....Bring them to that 16-Celled Stage....Put it in Professional Uterii and Get Babies....that will have NO Last Names! Those Names are Lost in Them!
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2013
Each cell of the preimplantation Human embryo is totipotent..... Totipotent meaning Each Cell can be Made into a Baby!

Implantation into Uterine Wall occurs only on 7th Day after Copulation (1-Celled Zygote Formation).

Unlike in Mice, in Humans, 8-Celled Embryonic Stage is Reached on 3rd Day!
http://en.wikiped...ogenesis
betterexists
1 / 5 (2) Sep 13, 2013
40-150 Human Cells can be made THUS into SAME Human Babies Theoritically...NOT just Twins OR 10/12...I do NOT know the Exact Number!

Each cell of the preimplantation Human embryo is totipotent..... Totipotent meaning Each Cell can be Made into a Baby!

Implantation into Uterine Wall occurs only on 7th Day after Copulation (1-Celled Zygote Formation).

Unlike in Mice, in Humans, 8-Celled Embryonic Stage is Reached on 3rd Day!
http://en.wikiped...ogenesis