Chinese researchers have cloned mice from from adult mouse skin cells that were reprogrammed to turn them into a versatile embryo-like state, a landmark advance in stem-cell research that could possibly be used to treat Parkinson’s disease, paralysis and diabetes.
The study, published online in the journal Nature, showed for the first time that it is possible for adult tissue to develop into the full range of the body’s different cell types, in a manner similar to embryonic stem cells.
Skin cells were taken from adult mice and then these were reprogrammed to turn them into a versatile, embryo-like state by modifying four key genes using viruses.
If the technique were to be repeated in humans, it could open the way for limitless supply of an individual’s own stem cells that could be utilised to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, paralysis and diabetes, The Times newspaper said in a report today.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who conducted the study, named the first mouse pup born Tiny, or “Xiao Xiao” in Mandarin.
According to the report, the advance will address some of the ethical objections as the reprogrammed cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS), do not require cells to be taken from an embryo.