Sep. 19, 2006 Chemists are developing new insights and techniques in an effort to expand the therapeutic potential of stem cells, which includes possible treatments for Parkinson's disease, diabetes, spinal cord injury and other devastating conditions.
Embryonic stem cells are the most versatile stem cells, capable of being transformed into any other cell type, depending on their desired therapeutic use.
Now, researchers at Northwestern University have found new evidence that hematopoietic stem cells, a type of adult stem cell derived from the bone marrow that gives rise to blood cells, are capable of undergoing more diverse transformations than previously thought and could be transformed into a wide variety of tissue types, not just blood cells.
In recent laboratory tests, human megakaryocytes (bone marrow cells that produce blood platelets that are responsible for blood clotting) derived from adult hematopoietic stem cells were, for the first time, reprogrammed into neutrophil-like cells similar to the white blood cells that are responsible for fighting infections, according to study leader E. Terry Papoutsakis.
Insights from this study could help guide similar adult stem cell transformations in other cell types in the future, he says.
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