Scientists grow new stem cells in a living mouse

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have succeeded in generating new stem cells in living mice and say their success opens up possibilities for the regeneration of damaged tissue in people with conditions ranging from heart failure to spinal cord injury.

The researchers used the same "recipe" of growth-boosting ingredients normally used for making stem cells in a petri dish, but introduced them instead into living laboratory mice and found they were able to create so-called reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells).

"This opens up new possibilities in regenerative medicine," said Manuel Serrano, who led the study at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre in Madrid.

Stem cell experts who were not directly involved in the study said its success was exciting, but noted that the technique as it stands could not be used in humans since the reprogrammed cells also lead to tumours forming in the mice.

"Clearly nobody wishes to do this for therapeutic purposes because this leads to the formation of tumours called teratomas," said Ilaria Bellantuono, a reader in Stem Cell and Skeletal Ageing at Britain's University of Sheffield.

But she added that Serrano's work was a "a proof of concept" that opened up the opportunity to investigate ways to partially reprogram cells in the body up to a certain stage.

"In principle, these partially dedifferentiated cells could then be induced to differentiate to the cell type of choice inducing regeneration in vivo without the need of transplantation," she said.

Stem cells are the body's master cells and are able to differentiate into all other types of cells. Scientists say that by helping to regenerate tissue, they could offer new ways of treating diseases for which there are currently no treatments - including heart disease, Parkinson's and stroke.

There are two main types of stem cells - embryonic stem cells, harvested from embryos, and adult or iPS cells, cells taken from skin or blood and reprogrammed back into stem cells.

Serrano, who spoke to reporters in a briefing ahead of his study's publication in the journal Nature on Wednesday, said one of his most striking findings was that the iPS cells generated in the living mice seem to be more similar to embryonic stem cells than to iPS cells created in petri dishes.

Specifically, he said, the iPS cells reprogrammed in living mice showed the potential to differentiate into more cell types than standard iPS cells or embryonic stem cells - suggesting that reprogramming cells in a living mammal produces cells with greater potential, or what scientists call more plasticity.

Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, said he had no doubt that being able to reprogram cells in the body to different cell types would be useful in producing future therapies capable of transforming patients' lives, but said there were many more years of research ahead before that would be possible.

"The cells that will be useful will not be the pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), but their more specialised ('adult') offspring," he said.

"This.. is an interesting proof of concept of the first step in the process, but it still needs these iPS cells to be safely converted to useful 'adult' cell types in the body."

He said the major challenge in this potential approach to treating patients in the future would be tightly controlling every step of the process to make sure it delivered benefits while also avoiding complications.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Ralph Boulton)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have been able to purchase batting replacements for the loss of Michael Hussey and spin reinforcements in the form of Samuel Badree. They appear… More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »