Towards Reprogramming Adult Cells
Stem cells are a very interesting and potentially important field for the future of medicine, as these cells can become the basis for any cell in our bodies. While embryonic stem cells, which are very early in development show perhaps the most promise, researchers have discovered that adult cells can be reprogrammed to be pluripotent, like the younger cells. Now researchers at the Center of Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona have discovered a means to improve the efficiency of reprogramming adult cells.
The exact process to create induced pluripotent stem cells from adult cells is not well understood currently, but many are working to reveal its secrets. The researchers at CRG found that the Wnt route appears to influence the process; the pathway frogs and lizards use to regenerate lost limbs. Even though humans lost the regenerative abilities the Wnt route offers, it is still present in us and plays a role in embryonic development and cell fusion. The researchers discovered that if it is inhibited at the beginning of the process to create the iPS cells and activated at the proper time at the end, the process will be more efficient and create more of the cells.
While the potential for iPS cells is definitely an important application for this research, it can also lead to advancements in other, Wnt route related areas. These include regenerative medicine and tumors that involve the Wnt pathway.
Source: Center for Genomic Regulation