Reprogramming Adult Stem Cells
A confocal image of human embryonic stem cells stained with antibodies specific to the embryonic antigen Tra1-60. Image © Chad A. Cowan
Researchers in the 26 August 2005 issue of the journal Science have fused an adult skin cell with an embryonic stem cell and shown that the cell was reprogrammed to its embryonic state.
If future experiments indicate that this reprogrammed state is retained after removing the embryonic stem cell DNA currently a formidable technical hurdle the hybrid cells could theoretically be used to produce embryonic stem cell lines that are tailored to individual patients without the need to create and destroy human embryos.
Chad A. Cowan and colleagues merged human embryonic stem cells with human skin cells called fibroblasts, producing hybrid cells that contained both the fibroblast and stem cell chromosomes. The hybrid cells had the appearance, growth rate, and several key genetic characteristics of human embryonic cells. They also behaved like embryonic cells, differentiating into cells from each of the three main tissue types that form in a developing embryo. The authors conclude that human embryonic cells have the ability to reprogram adult cell chromosomes following cell fusion.
22 August 2005