Can stem cells regenerate human organs?
A recent study has raised hope in terms of stem cells being used to regenerating regenerate human organs in laboratories. Dr. Kostas Kostarelos, the principal investigator of the Nanomedicine Lab at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, just published their findings in JoVE, the Journal of Visualised Experiments. Their original technique could solve an issue that first presented a problem in stem cell application in regenerative medical science.
Kostarelos stated that he and his team have found a viable strategy for reprogramming somatic cells—which make up most of the body’s cells—in vivo to perform like stem cells while also avoiding the risk of creating tumors. This research has also been praised as being a potential alternative to the controversial, politically-charged use of actual embryonic stem cells.
Kostarelos elaborates: “We have induced somatic cells within the liver of adult mice to transiently behave as pluripotent stem cells. This was done by transfer of four specific genes, previously described by the Nobel-prize winning Shinya Yamanaka, without the use of viruses but simply plasmid DNA (which is a little round, twin-stranded portion of DNA used for manipulating gene expression in a cell).”
Kostarelos continues: “One of the central dogmas of this emerging field is that in vivo implantation of (these stem) cells will lead to their uncontrolled differentiation and the formation of a tumor-like mass.” Their technique overcomes this obstacle. He explains that is the “only experimental technique to report the in vivo reprogramming of adult somatic cells to pluripotency using non-viral, transient, rapid and safe methods.”
Their process includes injecting a great amount of short-lived plasmid DNA which significantly reduces any risks previously associated with this type of procedure. Kostarelos and his team published their findings in JoVE because they hope to promote their procedure’s novelty, simplicity and uniqueness. They have also released “a peer-reviewed” filmed demo of their method in order to guarantee that others may properly replicate it.
(Image courtesy of BusinessInsider and Nownano )