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Stem cells have been holding great promise for regenerative medicine for ages. In the last decade, many studies have revealed this form of cell, which in Spanish is called”mother cell” due to its ability to contribute to various different cell types, may be applied in regenerative medicine to diseases such as muscle and nervous system disorders, among others.
Scientists and stem cell leaders Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 2012 for this idea.
However, one of the key constraints in the application of these herbal remedies is the caliber of the stem cells that may be made in the lab, which impedes their use for curative purposes.
Currently, a team in the Cell Division and Cancer Group of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), headed by researcher Marcos Malumbres, has recently developed a fresh, easy and fast technology that enhances in vitro and in vivo the possibility of stem cells to differentiate into adult cells. The study results will be released this week in The EMBO Journal.
In recent years, several protocols have been proposed to obtain reprogrammed stem cells in the laboratory from adult cells, but very few to improve the cells we already have.The method we developed is able to significantly increase the quality of stem cells obtained by any other protocol, thus favouring the efficiency of the production of specialised cell types.”María Salazar-Roa, Study First Author and Researcher, Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
Roa is likewise the co-corresponding author of this analysis.
Within this study, the researchers identified an RNA sequence, called microRNA 203, that can be found at the earliest embryonic stages – before the embryo implants in the uterus and when stem cells have their highest ability to generate all the different cells.
When they added this molecule to stem cells from the laboratory, they discovered that the cells’ ability to convert into other cell types improved appreciably.
To corroborate them, they used stem cells of both human and murine origin, and of genetically altered mice. “The results were so spectacular, both in mouse cells and in human cells”
“Application of the microRNA for just 5 days boosts the potential of stem cells in most situations we tested and improves their ability to become other specialised cells, even months after being connected with the microRNA.” Says Salazar-Roa.
According to the research, cells modified by this new protocol are more efficient in generating functional cardiac cells, opening the doorway to a better generation of different cell types essential for the cure of degenerative disorders.
Malumbres, mind of the CNIO Cell and Cancer Division Group, states:”To deliver this asset to the clinic, cooperation with labs or companies that are looking to exploit that technology is now essential in each particular case.”
In this circumstance, Salazar-Roa recently participated, in close collaboration with all the CNIO’s Innovation group, in prestigious creation programs like IDEA2 International of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and also CaixaImpulse of this”La Caixa” Foundation, where they also obtained funding to start the maturation of the technology.