Any Immature Cell Can Become Stem Cell - Study
A new study conducted at the University of Copenhagen challenges traditional knowledge of stem cell development. The study reveals that the destiny of intestinal cells is not predetermined, but instead determined by the cells’ surroundings. All cells in the foetal gut have the potential to develop into stem cells, the study concludes. The findings may make it easier to manipulate stem cells for stem cell therapy.
“We used to believe that a cell's potential for becoming a stem cell was predetermined,” said Prof Kim Jensen, “but our new results show that all immature cells have the same probability for becoming stem cells in the fully developed organ. In principle, it is simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Here signals from the cells' surroundings determine their fate. If we are able to identify the signals that are necessary for the immature cell to develop into a stem cell, it will be easier for us to manipulate cells in the wanted direction.”
“We have gained greater insight into the mechanisms through which cells in the immature intestines develop into stem cells. Hopefully we are able to use this knowledge to improve treatment of non-healing wounds, e.g. in the intestines. So far, though, all we can say for sure is that cells in the gastrointestinal tract have these characteristics. However, we do believe this is a general phenomenon in foetal organ development,” Jensen said.
Throughout life stem cells help maintain the organs in the body and repair damaged tissue. However, the stem cells found in the body can only renew and repair minor tissue damage. Using stem cell transplantation and therapy it is possible to supplement the body's own cells with new, healthy stem cells that can help repair or replace damaged tissue. A better understanding of the factors that determine whether or not an immature cell develops into a stem cell may therefore be useful in the development of stem cells for therapy and transplantation.
Science Daily. May 16. Nature. May 15.