A team of researchers from Cambridge University in England has made a massive breakthrough that could solve some of medicine's biggest challenges.
A team of researchers from Cambridge University has made a huge breakthrough in stem cell research. According to a report from UPI, scientists have devised a new method to create naïve pluripotent stem cells from human embryos, which could lead to huge developments in regenerative medicine and may even help tackle some of the more particularly devastating genetic disorders like Down’s syndrome.
The study was published in the journal Stem Cell Reports, and could solve the looming problem of obtaining stem cells for a variety of other applications. Stem cells are particularly difficult to work with due to their tendency to follow instructions to develop into a specific type of cell.
The method is significant because it leads to the production of naïve pluripotent stem cells, which have the widest range of options for developing into different types of cells. This can allow researchers to start with a simple building block and recreate some of the body’s most complex tissues found in fragile organs.
There are currently two accepted sources for pluripotent stem cells. They can come from embryonic stem cells from discarded fertilized eggs following IVF procedures or from skin cells that have induced to develop into stem cells.
The new development provides a third source, which could make it possible to develop cells that could be used to regenerate damaged organ tissues, even in difficult organs like the heart, brain and pancreas.
According to Cambridge researcher Ge Guo, “Until now, it hasn’t been possible to isolate these naïve stem cells, even though we’ve had the technology to do it in mice for 30 years – leading some people to doubt it would be possible.”
When an egg is fertilized, embryonic cells group together to for a blastocyst that becomes implanted in the uterus. The blastocyst is made of three types of cells that develop into the placenta, a yolk sac and a fetus. The recent breakthrough allows scientists to extract the cells that develop into a fetus, allowing them to grow and differentiate into a number of different types of tissues.
A press release from the University of Cambridge describing the details of the study can be found here.