NEW YORK (Sept. 20, 2007) -- Easily accessed and plentiful, adult stem cells found in a male patient's testicles might someday be used to create a wide range of tissue types to help him fight disease -- getting around the need for more controversial embryonic stem cells.
That's the promise of a breakthrough study in mice led by a team from Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, who report their findings in the September 20 issue of Nature.
Using spermatogonial progenitor stem cells (SPCs) obtained from the mouse's testes, the researchers were able to redirect the cells' development in the lab to form so-called "multi-potent adult spermatogonial-derived stem cells" (MASCs).
It was these cells that went on to develop into working blood vessel (endothelial) cells and tissue, as well as cardiac cells, brain cells and a host of other cell types.
Prior research conducted elsewhere has used genetic manipulation to reprogram adult cells derived from connective tissue to acquire stem-cell potential, differentiating into various organ-specific tissues. However, this reprogramming method -- called "induced pluripotency" -- resulted in generation of multi-potent stem cells that carried an increased risk of transforming into malignant cells.
"What's really novel about our work is that -- unlike induced pluripotency -- these mouse SPCs do not require any addition or tweaking of genes to get them to form the multi-potent cells (MASCs) that then go on to produce all of these cell types," notes senior author Dr. Shahin Rafii, Arthur Belfer Professor of Genetic Medicine and director of the Ansary Stem Cell Center for Regenerative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and a noted Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
"Some hurdles remain, of course -- we have to replicate these findings in humans, and we haven't discovered the exact 'switch' that would allow us to control SPC development on demand," Dr.
|Contact: Jonathan Weil|
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College