Novel method to generate stem cells developed

The findings, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, showed a cocktail of two chemicals can induce mature somatic cells to turn back into pluripotent stem cells, state-run news agency reported.

Somatic cells are any cell of a living organism other than the reproductive cells, while stem cells can self-renew or multiply while maintaining the potential to develop into other types of cells. They can become cells of the blood, heart, bones, skin, muscle, brain or other body parts.

The study will help understanding of the fate of cells and could be applied to regenerative medicine, said lead researcher Pei Duanqing from the varsity’s Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health. While previous research have tried different approaches to induce somatic cells into stem cells, the new method of chemical induction, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is more efficient, simpler and safer.

“The fate of cells is determined by the chromatin structure in the nucleus of cells,” said Liu Jing, a researcher at the varsity. “We use small molecular chemicals to reprogramme the somatic cells by manipulating the chromatin structure from the somatic cell pattern to stem cell pattern.”

Soaking various somatic cells in the chemicals can induce them to become pluripotent stem cells, including the hepatic cell, which is difficult to reprogramme by other methods, Liu added.