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Cellular reprogramming of stem cells derived from one tissue type into a different tissue typically requires the labor-intensive use of external genes to modify and coax the existing genetic machinery down the desired path. Now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have established what they believe is a major breakthrough for stem cell research.
The researchers were able to transform skin cells into heart cells and brain cells. Previous research on cellular reprogramming required a complex amount of genetic engineering. Now, this study lays the groundwork for regenerating lost or damaged cells using certain pharmaceutical drugs.
The results of this study were published in two separate articles, one in Science titled “Conversion of Human Fibroblasts into Functional Cardiomyocytes by Small Molecules.” The study’s second set of results were published in Cell Stem Cell in an article entitled “Pharmacological Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Neural Stem Cells by Signaling-Directed Transcriptional Activation.”
In both studies, the Gladstone researchers used chemical cocktails to gradually coax skin cells to change into organ-specific stem cell-like cells and, ultimately, into heart or brain cells. This discovery offers a more efficient and reliable method to reprogram cells and avoids medical concerns surrounding genetic engineering.
Read full, original post: Heart on a Sleeve: Researchers Chemically Alter Skin Cells into Heart and Brain Cells