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Stem cells derived from adult testes produce wide range of tissue types
Date:9/19/2007

After a decade of research, Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have succeeded in reprogramming adult stem cells from the testes of male mice into functional blood vessels and contractile cardiac tissue. The research offers a promising new source of stem cells for use in organ regeneration studies.

Some scientists think that organ-specific adult stem cells may offer the same therapeutic potential as embryonic stem cells, without the ethical concerns or the risk of immune rejection that are associated with embryonic stem cell therapies. However, adult stem cells may lack the plasticity and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells capacity to generate any cell type. The study of adult stem cells has also been limited by their relative scarcity in various organs and the attendant difficulties in identifying and harvesting them, as well as differentiating them in large quantities into functional vascularized tissues.

HHMI investigator Shahin Rafii and his colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College appear to have solved some of these problems in male mice. Using spermatogonial progenitor cells obtained from the mouses testes, the researchers reprogrammed the cells to form multipotent adult spermatogonial-derived stem cells. If the same can be done with human cells, they say, adult stem cells may be a promising source of new therapies for men, for diseases such as vascular diseases, heart disease, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.

Scientists have had good success in deriving pluripotent stem cell lines those with the ability to develop into multiple cell types -- from adult testes cells. But only a small subset of cells from the testes has the potential to become pluripotent, and until now, investigators have lacked a means to identify and isolate them.

In a paper published online in the September 20, 2007, issue of the journal Nature, Rafii and colleagues at Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Ca
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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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