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Testes stem cell can change into other body tissues, Stanford/UCSF study shows
Date:1/5/2009

this case, their likely ability to differentiate into cells involved in male reproduction may be a wiser choice than trying to pigeonhole them as embryonic-stem-cell-wannabes, said Reijo-Pera.

"These cells could potentially treat infertility or other diseases in men," Turek said.

But the lure of pluripotency is strong. An easily accessible source of unmodified, pluripotent human cells would allow physicians and researchers to create cell lines and tissues identical to others in the donor's body. Theoretically such cells could be used as a perfectly matched therapy for that particular donor perhaps to generate new cartilage to repair a knee injury or new neurons to treat nerve damage. Alternatively, the technique could be used to derive cell lines carrying specific disease-causing mutations from a man with Parkinson's, for exampleon which to conduct research.

Coaxing specialized, or differentiated, adult cells to regress back into a more malleable, embryonic-stem-cell-like state (a process called "induced pluripotency") would also allow scientists to realize the therapeutic benefits of embryonic cells without the thorny ethical problems that plague cells derived from embryos. Until recently, however, the reprogramming of differentiated cells required the use of viruses to introduce specific genes into the cells, which may limit their therapeutic usefulness.

The researchers used cells obtained via biopsies conducted to diagnose male infertility in 19 of the clinic's patients. Each patient's cells were cultured in a manner similar to human embryonic stem cells; two of the 19 samples yielded cell lines with many characteristics of the pluripotent cells. One of the two patients from whom the cell lines were derived withdrew from the study and his samples were discarded.

Further study on the remaining cell line indicated that it expressed many, but not all, genes associated with pluripotency. The cells could also be induced
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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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