By Lenny Pierce
Once an intricate and complex process, scientists have found a surprisingly simple way of making stem cells. Stem cells are fundamentally different from other types of cells in that they are essentially “blank slates” which can transform into organ-specific cells with a singular function, such as a muscle cell, blood cell, or brain cell. (Still no word on whether or not they can be transformed into a copy of The Cell (2000), starring Jennifer Lopez.)
Until now, stem cells had to be acquired by either extracting them from embryos, moving an adult cell’s nucleus into an egg cell, or introducing viruses to a cell that cause it to revert to a embryonic-like state. Scientists have now found that simply exposing adult cells to a liquid of just the right acidity or squeezing them through a tight enough tube causes them to morph (or revert, really) into stem cells.
The video below shows a mouse embryo. The mouse’s beating heart was created from adult mouse blood cells which were “stressed” into becoming stem cells. These stem cells were manipulated into forming heart cells.
“It’s fascinating. It’s perplexing. It’s potentially profound, but leaves lots of reasons to scratch …read more