25 August 2009

The Land of Eternal Youth and stem cell differentiation

"Switch" for stem cellsElena Novoselova, STRF.ru
British scientists have gained an idea of how stem cells switch to develop into other types of cells

Scientists have uncovered a vital factor that contributes to the acquisition of stem cells of their remarkable properties. Specialists from the Stem Cell Research Center of the University of Cambridge have identified all stages of the transformation of stem embryonic cells into various types of cells of the body that perform complex functions.

This discovery plays an important role for the development of cell transplantation technologies.

Scientists have investigated the effect on the differentiation of stem cells of a protein with the poetic name Nanog. This protein was discovered in 2003 and its name comes from the Celtic phrase "Tir Nan Og", which means "land of eternal youth", but until now its function has not been understood. It turned out that this Nanog protein is the last switch in the chain of reactions on the path of reprogramming stem cells into somatic ones. It is he who is the last regulator of the acquisition of a powerful pluripotency mechanism by stem cells.

Without the Nanog protein, the cells stop halfway through their rebirth. As has been shown in laboratory animals, switching off the Nanog synthesis gene leads to inhibition of embryonic development at the stage of primary differentiation of cells in the tissue of germ sheets.

In recent years, scientists have made great strides in studying the properties of stem cells, developing methods for their use, especially in the field of medicine. Currently, scientists are able to obtain stem cells from an adult cell (for example, skin) that have the property of pluripotency, that is, the ability to develop into another type of cell, for example cardiomyocytes. Doctors hope that with the help of stem cells they will be able to cure such serious diseases as diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases.

The results of the work are published in the journal Cell.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru25.08.2009

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