WASHINGTON, D.C. Using what they say is a relatively simple method, scientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have extracted stem/progenitor cells from testes and have converted them back into pluripotent embryonic-like stem cells. Researchers say that the nave cells are now potentially capable of morphing into any cell type that a body needs, from brain neurons to pancreatic tissue.
And because they produced these stem cells without the use of additional genes, the technology should be safe for human use, the researchers say in a paper published online in the journal Stem Cells and Development.
"Given these advances, and with further validation, it is possible that in the nottoo-distant-future, men could be cured of disease with a biopsy of their own testes," says the study's senior investigator, Martin Dym, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular & Cellular Biology.
The Georgetown researchers are among the first scientists to show that human testes stem cells can become embryonic stem-like cells, and they have done this work using testis tissue from organ donors, which they say has provided enough valuable tissue to allow them to make their discoveries. While they have published their preliminary results before, they are now disclosing a new and simpler method to isolate the testes stem/progenitor cells than has not been seen in other published procedures in humans and rodents.
Being able to use adult stem cells for this type of cell-based therapy offers a number of advantages over other strategies currently being explored, says Dym. The use of embryonic stem cells is controversial because it necessitates destruction of an embryo, and pushing fully mature cells, such as skin cells, back into a stem-like state requires use of cancer genes, and has therefore been viewed as potentially risky for human treatment, he says.
The idea with this approach is that men with an incurabl
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Georgetown University Medical Center