[GRG] Scientists “reset” stem cells to study start of human development


Scientists “reset” stem cells to study start of human development

Thu Sep 11, 2014 9:30pm IST

* “A major step forward” – independent expert

* Could boost research into regenerative medicines

* Experts hope to study embryo development, defects

By Kate Kelland

LONDON, Sept 11 (Reuters) – British and Japanese scientists have
managed to “reset” human stem cells to their earliest state,
opening up a new realm of research into the start of human
development and potentially life-saving regenerative medicines.

In work described by one independent expert as “a major step
forward”, the scientists said they had successfully rebooted
pluripotent stem cells so they were equivalent to those of a 7 to
10-day old embryo, before it implants in the womb.

By studying the reset cells, they said they hoped they would now be
able to learn more about embryo development, and how it can go
wrong and cause miscarriage and developmental disorders.

“These cells may represent the real starting point for formation of
tissues in the human embryo,” said Austin Smith, director of the
Britain’s Cambridge Stem Cell Institute, who co-led the research
published in the journal Cell on Thursday.

“We hope that in time they will allow us to unlock the fundamental
biology of early development, which is impossible to study directly
in people,” he added.

Human pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to become
any of the cells and tissues in the body, can already be made in a
lab either from cells extracted from early-stage embryos or from
adult cells that have been induced, or reprogrammed, into an
earlier state.

But, the researchers said in a statement, until now it has proved
difficult to generate human pluripotent stem cells that are at an
early enough, pristine stage, before they have started changing.

Instead, scientists have only derived cells that are slightly
further down the developmental pathway, not a totally “blank
slate”, said Smith.

Experts say that by helping to regenerate tissue, stem cell science
could offer new ways of treating conditions for which there are
currently no cures – including heart and eye diseases, Parkinson’s
and stroke.


The process of generating stem cells in the lab is much easier to
control in mouse cells, which can be frozen in a state of very
early pluripotency using a protein called LIF. Human cells are not
as responsive to LIF, so they must be controlled in a different way
that involves switching key genes on and off.

Smith said this was the main reason why scientists have been unable
to generate human pluripotent cells that are as primitive and
pristine as their mouse equivalents.

To avoid this problem, the scientists introduced two genes – NANOG
and KLF2 – which caused a network of genes controlling the cell to
reboot and induce the early pluripotent state.

Yasuhiro Takashima of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, who
worked with Smith, said the reset cells opened the door to a new
phase of research.

“We now need to carry out further studies to establish how our
cells compare with others,” he said. “We don’t yet know whether
these will be a better starting point than existing stem cells for
therapies, but being able to start entirely from scratch could
prove beneficial.”

Chris Mason, a stem cell expert and professor of regenerative
medicine at University College London who was not involved in this
work, praised its results and implications.

“Having a source of pristine stem cells which can be precisely
changed into clinical-relevant cell types is a major step forward,”
he said in an emailed comment.

“The benefits could be safer and more clinically effective cell
therapies produced at lower cost – good news for patients and
healthcare providers.” (Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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About Johnny Adams

My full-time commitment is to slow and ultimately reverse age related functional decline to increase healthy years of life. I’ve been active in this area since the 1970s, steadily building skills and accomplishments. I have a good basic understanding of the science of aging, and have many skills that complement those of scientists so they can focus on science to advance our shared mission. Broad experience Top skills: administration, management, information technology (data and programming), communications, writing, marketing, market research and analysis, public speaking, forging ethical win-win outcomes among stakeholders (i.e. high level "selling"). Knowledge in grant writing, fundraising, finance. Like most skilled professionals, I’m best described as a guy who defines an end point, then figures out how to get there. I enjoy the conception, design, execution and successful completion of a grand plan. Executive Director Gerontology Research Group (GRG). Manages Email discussion forum, web site, meetings and oversees supercentenarian (oldest humans, 110+ years) research. CEO / Executive Director Carl I. Bourhenne Medical Research Foundation (Aging Intervention Foundation), an IRS approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit. http://www.AgingIntervention.org Early contributor to Supercentenarian Research Foundation. Co-Founder Geroscience Healthspan Forum. Active contributor to numerous initiatives to increase healthy years of life. Co-authored book on conventional, practical methods available today to slow the processes of aging – nutrition, exercise, behavior modification and motivation, stress reduction, proper supplementation, damage caused by improper programs, risk reduction and others. Fundamental understanding of, and experience in the genomics of longevity (internship analyzing and curating longevity gene papers). Biological and technical includes information technology, software development and computer programming, bioinformatics and protein informatics, online education, training programs, regulatory, clinical trials software, medical devices (CAT scanners and related), hospital electrical equipment testing program. Interpersonal skills – good communication, honest, well liked, works well in teams or alone. Real world experience collaborating in interdisciplinary teams in fast paced organizations. Uses technology to advance our shared mission. Education: MBA 1985 University of Southern California -- Deans List, Albert Quon Community Service Award (for volunteering with the American Longevity Association and helping an elderly lady every other week), George S. May Scholarship, CA State Fellowship. BA psychology, psychobiology emphasis 1983 California State University Fullerton Physiological courses as well as core courses (developmental, abnormal etc). UCLA Psychobiology 1978, one brief but fast moving and fulfilling quarter. Main interest was the electrochemical basis of consciousness. Also seminars at the NeuroPsychiatric Institute. Other: Ongoing conferences, meetings and continuing education. Aging, computer software and information technology. Some molecular biology, biotech, bio and protein informatics, computer aided drug design, clinical medical devices, electronics, HIPAA, fundraising through the Assoc. of Fundraising Professionals. Previous careers include: Marketing Increasing skill set and successes in virtually all phases, with valuable experience in locating people and companies with the greatest need and interest in a product or service, and sitting across the table with decision makers and working out agreements favorable to all. Information Technology: Management, data analysis and programming in commercial and clinical trials systems, and bioinformatics and protein informatics. As IT Director at Newport Beach, CA based technology organization Success Family of Continuing Education Companies, provided online software solutions for insurance and financial professionals in small to Fortune 500 size companies. We were successful with lean team organization (the slower moving competition was unable to create similar software systems). Medical devices: At Omnimedical in Paramount CA developed and managed quality assurance dept. and training depts. for engineers, physicians and technicians. Designed hospital equipment testing program for hospital services division. In my early 20’s I was a musician, and studied psychology and music. Interned with the intention of becoming a music therapist. These experiences helped develop valuable skills used today to advance our shared mission of creating aging solutions.
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