Transdifferentiation to Simplify Generation of Cells to Order

Researchers are slimming down the process of generating specific types of cell to order, turning the multi-step induced pluripotency processes of the last couple of years into a single step: researchers "have succeeded in obtaining somatic stem cells from fully differentiated somatic cells. [Scientists] took skin cells from mice and, using a unique combination of growth factors while ensuring appropriate culturing conditions, have managed to induce the cells' differentiation into neuronal somatic stem cells. ... Our research shows that reprogramming somatic cells does not require passing through a pluripotent stage. Thanks to this new approach, tissue regeneration is becoming a more streamlined - and safer - process. ... One factor in particular, called Brn4, which had never been used before in this type of research, turned out to be a genuine 'captain' who very quickly and efficiently took command of his ship - the skin cell - guiding it in the right direction so that it could be converted into a neuronal somatic stem cell. ... This interconversion turns out to be even more effective if the cells, stimulated by growth factors and exposed to just the right environmental conditions, divide more frequently. ... Gradually, the cells lose their molecular memory that they were once skin cells. ... It seems that even after only a few cycles of cell division the newly produced neuronal somatic stem cells are practically indistinguishable from stem cells normally found in the tissue. ... So far, insights are based on experiments using murine skin cells; the next steps now are to perform the same experiments using actual human cells. In addition, it is imperative that the stem cells' long-term behaviour is thoroughly characterized to determine whether they retain their stability over long periods of time."



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