Stem cells derived from embryos hold incredible potential in disease research, but they can’t provide adult patients with stem cells generated from their own tissue. While techniques for reprogramming adult cells into stem cells are still being researched, there’s now a new, simpler and faster method for creating the multitalented stem cell: environmental stress. Cells from adult mice, when exposed to physical squeezing, acid or bacterial toxins, can become stem cells, able to generate any type of adult tissue. By tagging these stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells with a fluorescent marker and injecting them into embryonic mice researchers showed that they appear in every type of tissue as the animal develops (pictured). STAP cells are not only a promising new way to generate many tissues and organs, but may also help us to understand how cells respond to environmental stress.
Written by Cathleen O'Grady
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