Spanish scientists have generated stem cells from mature mouse cells. Nothing new there. Shinya Yamanaka did that 9 years ago. But the difference between this and Yamanaka's work – and every other bit of stem cell research up until now – is that the stem cells in Madrid were not generated in a petri dish but in a living mouse.
The researchers, reporting in Nature, found that they could reprogram induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells in vivo from mature mouse cells. "You don't need the milieu of the petri dish," George Daley, director of stem cell transplantation at Boston Children's Hospital, who was not involved with the work, told Bloomberg. "You can just do this right in the tissues. That's surprising."
The team at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid genetically engineered mice to express four genes – Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc – to create iPS cells. The researchers found that multiple teratomas emerged from organs within the mice, indicative of cellular reprogramming. Analysis of the iPS cells revealed that they more closely resemble embyronic stem cells than in vitro iPS cells.
Because of the formation of teratomas, the work remains more of an exciting proof-of-concept rather than immediate therapeutic application, but the research does open up a new avenue for stem cell research.
“This opens up new possibilities in regenerative medicine,” said team leader Manuel Serrano. According to the Nature news article, Serrano’s team is now going to look at how tumour formation can be avoided, and whether the reprogrammed cells can regenerate specific cell types in a controlled manner.
To learn more about research and development in the stem cell industry, attend the Stem Cells USA & Regenerative Medicine Congress.
[Image source: Flickr: Duncan Hull]