Not unlike looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, a team of Michigan State University researchers have found a gene that could be key to the development of stem cells – cells that can potentially save millions of lives by morphing into practically any cell in the body.
The gene, known as ASF1A, was not discovered by the team. However, it is at least one of the genes responsible for the mechanism of cellular reprogramming, a phenomenon that can turn one cell type into another, which is key to the making of stem cells (…)
“This has the potential to be a major breakthrough in the way we look at how stem cells are developed,” said Elena Gonzalez-Munoz, a former MSU post-doctoral researcher and first author of the paper. “Researchers are just now figuring out how adult somatic cells such as skin cells can be turned into embryonic stem cells. Hopefully this will be the way to understand more about how that mechanism works.”
In 2006, an MSU team identified the thousands of genes that reside in the oocyte. It was from those, they concluded, that they could identify the genes responsible for cellular reprogramming.
In 2007, a team of Japanese researchers found that by introducing four other genes into cells, stem cells could be created without the use of a human egg. These cells are called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPSCs (…)