Blood stem cells (green) were created from stem cells from mouse testes. Image: Shahin Rafii and Marco Seandel
Reading aloud American scientists have succeeded in obtaining stem cells from the testes of mice and used them to produce blood vessel and heart muscle cells. The researchers led by Marco Seandel of Cornell University in Ithaca isolated precursor forms of sperm cells and converted them into stem cells in the laboratory. The researchers see their method as an alternative to the use of embryonic stem cells. The scientists discovered in their lab tests a molecule called GPR125, which only carries the precursor forms of sperm cells in the mouse testes on their surface. With the help of this molecule, the cells can easily be distinguished from others and removed from the testes, the researchers explain. If the cells are then kept in the laboratory in a similar environment as occurs in the mouse testis, they do not turn into sperm cells, but into so-called multipotent adult stem cells. These stem cells can then form many different types of tissue. However, Seandel and his colleagues do not know yet what exact biochemical mechanism behind the conversion of sperm precursors into stem cells.

The fact that the stem cells from the testes really have the ability to form new organs, was revealed when the scientists injected some of the cells in early mouse embryos: In the adult mice could follower cells in many different organs are found, the researchers explain. In the laboratory too, the stem cells developed into blood vessel cells, heart muscle cells and nerve cells.

Achieving the same results with human sperm progenitor cells would allow the artificial production of many different tissues, the researchers explain. As a result, for example, rejection reactions after organ transplantation could be prevented because the transferred tissue is then not from a foreign donor, but from the patient himself. That would only apply to men. Whether similar stem cells can be isolated from the ovaries, should be found in additional experiments, the researchers.

Marco Seandel (Cornell University in Ithaca) et al .: Nature, Volume 449, page 346 ddp / Anja Baster's ad


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