Researchers have discovered how to turn adult cells into stem cells without changing the cell’s DNA by manipulating the environment it lives in, which can become a game changer in the fields of medicine and biology. Researchers from Japan and Harvard University placed adult cells from mice in low pH solutions and placed them under physical pressure, which resulted to stem cells.
Researchers from Japan, Harvard and RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology placed white blood cells under different stressors, which included a low pH, acidic solution for five minutes and applied physical pressure. The process produced stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells. The research is a scientific breakthrough in human biology, stem cell research and disease treatment. Science dictates that once a stem cell matures into a specific role like muscles, blood, organs, etc., it is not capable of going back to its original state as a stem cell.
However, according to the research spearheaded by Charles Vacanti, a stem cell and tissue engineering biologist from the Harvard Medical School, it can be done provided the environment around the cell is appropriate. The process of reversion, meanwhile, happens in the body after an injury and naturally so. He noted that the more severe the injury, the farthest back the cells will revert. Vacanti also noted that “with a very significant injury, you will cause it to revert clear back to what is basically an embryonic stem cell.”
The study of stem cell goes back to 2006 when Japanese researcher Shinya Yamanaka found a way to change adult cells to stem cells. However, the process he used changed the genetic makeup of the cell’s nucleus, which made researchers anxious to try the stem cells in human patients. The discovery, if applicable in human cells would be a “game changer” because there is no complicated genetic manipulation, according to Ricardo Dolmetsch, the Global Head of Neuroscience at Novartis Insitutes for Biomedical research in Massachusetts. He further noted that, “From a practical point of view, is all it takes is a change in pH and a change in cell culture conditions, then this will make the process of making stem cells a lot simpler and a lot easier to scale.” While the research has been published in the journal Nature, stem cell biologist Rudolf Jaenisch, from the Whitehead Institute, advised that further research must be done as “quite a lot of questions were unresolved.”
[ via News 10 ]