Stem Cells Advance
SCOTTISH scientists have discovered a gene which could be the key to the ability to harvest embryonic stem cells from adult body cells.
The gene, named Nanog, after the mythical Celtic land of the ever young, was discovered by Professor Austin Smith and his team at Edinburgh University and reported in the journal, Nature. They showed Nanog helps reprogram adult mouse cells into "pluripotent" embryonic stem cells.
Stem cells are master cells in the body. Scientists believe they could act as a type of human repair system to provide new therapies for illnesses ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's.
Stem cells found in early embryos have the potential to make any type of cell or tissue. Adult stem cells have a more limited range.
Converting adult stem cells into an embryonic state would eliminate the use of early embryos, which is a scientific and ethical stumbling block for researchers.