Scientists Convert Skin Cells into Placenta-Generating Cells in Mice

Regenerative medicine is a new and expanding area that aims to replace lost or damaged cells, tissues, or organs in the human body through cellular transplantation. Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are pluripotent cells that are capable of long-term growth, self-renewal, and can give rise to every cell, tissue, and organ in the fetus's body. Thus, ESCs hold great promise for cell therapy as a source of diverse differentiated cell-types. Two major bottlenecks to realizing such potential are allogenic immune rejection of ESC-derived cells by recipients and ethical issues. Two Japanese scientists, Nobel laureate Shinya Yamanaka (Gladstone Institutes, San Francicso, and Dr. Kazutoshi Takahashi (now also at Gladstone Institutes, San Francisco), showed, in 2006, that introduction of four genes in skin cells can reprogram fibroblasts into functional embryonic stem-like cells (also termed “induced pluripotent stem cells” (“iPSCs”). The notion that as few as four genes are sufficient to completely change the cell, opened a new avenue which scientists have traveled down in atttempts to convert different adult cells into other somatic cell types. Several subsets of cell types such as blood cells, nerve cells, heart cells, and liver cells have been converted from different adult cells by employing this direct conversion approach. This discovery enabled an attractive approach that resolves both the ethical issue and the immune rejection problem of ESCs and the need for donor cells. Now, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, led by Dr.
Login Or Register To Read Full Story