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Playing it safe
Date:7/7/2009

This release is available in German.

Kinarm Ko and Hans Schler's team at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Biomedicine in Mnster have succeeded for the first time in culturing a clearly defined cell type from the testis of adult mice and converting these cells into pluripotent stem cells without introduced genes, viruses or reprogramming proteins. These stem cells have the capacity to generate all types of body tissue. The culture conditions alone were the crucial factor behind the success of the reprogramming process. (Cell Stem Cell, July 2, 2009)

The testis is a sensitive organ and an astonishing one at that. Even at the age of 70, 80 or 85, men have cells that constantly produce new sperm. Therefore, they can conceive embryos and become fathers at almost any age - assuming they can find a sufficiently young female partner. Based on this, researchers have long assumed that cells from the testis have a similar potential as in embryonic stem cells: that is, a pluripotency that enables them to form over 200 of the body's cell types.

In fact, a number of researchers have recently stumbled on the multiple talents in the male gonads of humans and mice. It all began with the work of Takashi Shinohara's team in 2004. The Japanese scientists discovered that, like embryonic stem cells, certain cells in the testis of newborn mice are able to develop into different kinds of tissue. In 2006, scientists working with Gerd Hasenfu and Wolfgang Engel in Gttigen reported that such adaptable cells can also be found in adult male mice. Additionally, Thomas Skutella and his colleagues at the University of Tbingen recently made headlines when they cultured comparable cells from human testis tissue.

A bewildering variety of cells

"At first glance, it would appear that it has long been established that pluripotent cells
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Contact: Dr. Jeanine Mller-Keuker
presse@mpi-muenster.mpg.de
49-251-703-65325
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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