By Kate Kelland, Health and Science Correspondent
Reuters Photo: A fluorescent microscope image shows human embryonic stem cells in this photo taken at Stanford University and released by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine
LONDON (Reuters) - In experiments that could open a new era in stem cell biology, scientists have found a simple way to reprogram mature animal cells back into an embryonic-like state that allows them to generate many types of tissue.
The research, described as game-changing by experts in the field, suggests human cells could in future be reprogrammed by the same technique, offering a simpler way to replace damaged cells or grow new organs for sick and injured people.
Chris Mason, chair of regenerative medicine bioprocessing at University College London, who was not involved in the work, said its approach in mice was "the most simple, lowest-cost and quickest method" to generate so-called pluripotent cells - able to develop into many different cell types - from mature cells.
"If it works in man, this could be the game changer that ultimately makes a wide range of cell therapies available using the patient's own cells as starting material - the age of personalized medicine would have finally arrived," he said.
The experiments, reported in two papers in the journal Nature on Wednesday, involved scientists from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan and Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the United States. ...more