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Stem Cell Research Gets a Boost From Vitamin C

Antioxidant may help adult cells generate embryonic-like cells, study finds

THURSDAY, Dec. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Vitamin C is often recommended to help fight the common cold and heal wounds, but the antioxidant might have another benefit: it appears to help adult cells generate embryonic-like stem cells, new research suggests.

The findings, published online Dec. 24 in the journal Cell Stem Cell, add to previous research that showed how adult cells can be reprogrammed. The problem, researchers explained, is that the process doesn't work very well.

"The low efficiency of the reprogramming process has hampered progress with this technology and is indicative of how little we understand it. Further, this process is most challenging in human cells," senior study author Duanqing Pei, of the South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.

The researchers found that vitamin C boosted the process in both human and mouse cells.

"It is also of interest that a vitamin with long-suspected anti-aging effects has such a potent influence on reprogramming, which can be considered a reversal of the aging process at the cellular level. It is likely that our work may stimulate further research in this area as well," Pei added.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on stem cells.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, Dec. 24, 2009

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