The breakthrough involving mice could lead to growing organs for humans in need, researchers say.
Live mice have been grown from mouse skin cells by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla. The feat represents another step toward using stem cell therapy to treat injuries and incurable diseases.
Replacement organs might eventually be grown from a patient's own cells with the technology, say the scientists at the institute, one of the largest biomedical research centers in the country.
Scripps scientists turned normal skin cells into the equivalent of the much-talked-about embryonic stem cells, said Kristin Baldwin, an assistant professor at Scripps who led the study. They proved it by growing these so-called iPS cells or "induced pluripotent stem cells," into healthy mice.
"We're excited about the idea that there are iPS cells which are functionally exactly like embryonic stem cells," Baldwin said.
Moreover, she said, the team has been able to identify differences between these functional cells and other iPS cells that don't work as well. That could lead to producing high-quality iPS cells for human therapy, and for laboratory models of diseases.
The findings were published in the Aug. 2 advance online edition of Nature in a paper titled, “Adult mice generated from induced pluripotent stem cells.”