– September 11, 2013)
Scientists have turned back the hands of time in cells within a living creature. Researchers in Spain used a technique created seven years ago to force mature cells in mice to revert to an original form of
stem cell with the potential to change into any type of living tissue.
Previously, scientists were only been able to achieve this change in a petri dish. The newest experiment may one day let doctors work entirely inside the body to regenerate tissue and, perhaps, more complex organs. This could include reconnecting a severed spinal cord or generating healthy heart cells. “This is
the next step along a continuum,” said Daley, a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston who wrote an accompanying editorial on the work, which he wasn’t involved with. “What this is hinting at is that maybe we can, by regressing tissues in the patient, regenerate this embryonic potential and, with
direction, regenerate a particular tissue.” The reverted mouse cells were also found to be more primitive than stem cells taken from embryos or created in the lab. This means they can be turned into a placenta and other embryonic-support membranes, a factor beyond the capacity of the other cells, the researchers wrote.