Is that all it takes?
Perhaps so, take a look at a an article about converting adult cells into stem cells, that appeared in the Times earlier this week. Thank you to Patrick for finding and sharing this information, perhaps a cure really is just around the corner.
Scientists use citric acid to create stem cell ‘game changer’
Scientists have discovered a simple method to convert adult cells into
embryonic-like stem cells, which in future could be used to regenerate
anything from new neurons to heart tissue.
The technique, described as a “game changer” for stem-cell therapy, requires
ordinary skin or blood cells to be bathed in a weak citric acid solution for
The method overcomes ethical concerns about using stem cells from human
embryos and side-steps the practical and safety issues presented by previous
methods for genetically “rewinding the clock” on adult cells.
The first demonstration by researchers from the Riken Centre for
Developmental Biology in Japan, was in mice, but scientists believe that it
is likely to work in human cells.
Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine at University College
London, said that the simplicity of the method was “almost too good to be
true”, but added that the findings had been scrutinised by reviewers for
almost a year, leaving little margin for error.
“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 personalised medicine would have finally
arrived,” he said.
Professor Mason and others predicted that the Japanese team would publish
their findings on human cells “within months”, because everyone working in
the field would now be working to replicate the results.
Haruko Obokata, the lead author, said the discovery was inspired by a
similar process that allows plants to self-repair. “I instinctively felt
that we may have a similar mechanism to the plant,” she said.
Stem cells are versatile immature cells that are present in embryos and have
the ability to turn into any cell type in the body, including heart, muscle,
lung, brain and skin cells.
As adults we lose the ability to regenerate tissues from scratch, but
scientists are trying to do so artificially as this would allow doctors to
develop heart tissue for cardiovascular patients, neurons for Parkinson’s
patients and retinal tissue for people with macular degeneration.
The latest research, published today in the journal.
Nature, shows that “shocking” adult blood cells by bathing them in a mild
citric acid (PH 5.5) for less than 30 minutes triggered them to revert into
an immature embryonic stem cell-like state during the following 48 hours.
The cells, which the authors call STAP stem cells, were then cultured in
growth solutions and shown to develop into fully mature cells of many
When the cells were injected into an early mouse embryo, they were
assimilated and behaved similarly to genuine embryonic stem cells. The
technique would be significantly cheaper, quicker and simpler than the
production of so-called induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, which uses
complex genetic techniques to turn adult skin cells into an immature state.
In a pilot study last year to treat age-related macular degeneration by
injecting stem cells into the eye, it took 10 months to go from a patient’s
skin sample to an IPS cell therapy.
The process was less efficient in older mice, but still worked, the study
Professor Robin Lovell-Badge of the Medical Research Council’s National
Institute for Medical Research, said: “It is going to be a while before the
nature of these cells are understood, and whether they might prove to be
useful for developing therapies, but the really intriguing thing to discover
will be the mechanism underlying how a low pH shock triggers reprogramming.
And why does it not happen when we eat lemon or vinegar or drink cola?”
Dusko Ilic, a stem cell scientist at King’s College London, said: “The
papers describe a major scientific discovery and they will be opening a new
era in stem-cell biology.”
Isn’t that just fantastic news! And much of the research is taking place at the very hospital I attend.
Other exciting news is my bathroom. My lovely nephew has kindly offered to help make the bathroom of my dreams come true so Cinderella will go to the ball, sparkly floors and all.
And another thing is the New BrainBox resource is almost ready to have its first copy printed out and should be at the printers by the end of the week. This will be ready in time for orders to come in before the end of the financial year. This is the plan anyway. We already have an order for 80 copies!
This is our week off, so no hospital visits. Today we will see Jem and Elliot, I have a spa treatment planned with mum tomorrow and a visit to the Cancer Hair Care place on Thursday morning, otherwise it will be my nose to the grindstone creating lots of mental health resources.
Honestly how did I ever fit work in?
Have a good week