A group of scientists was able to create a new type of pluripotent stem cell that is derived from human and monkey stem cell lines, as well as that of early mouse embryos.
The ones that were derived from human and monkey stem cells have the ability to generate and divide three germ layers in a mouse embryo that is still in its early development stages. The finding suggests that human-derived stem cells can potentially initiate a stem cell differentiation process in mice.
In a paper that reported the results of the study, Development Biologist, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, he and his team suggest that the new cells may provide the basis for modeling early human development.
This can also possibly lead to the manipulation of the cells in such a way that will help generate human organs and tissue that can be utilized for clinical applications.
George Daley, a stem cell biologist, found that the paper’s findings are indeed fascinating. The study not only highlights a new type of pluripotent stem cell, but its potential use is something to be excited about moving forward.
Paul Knoepfler, another stem cell biologist, also echoed Daley’s sentiments by saying that it focuses nicely into a much bigger concept in that stem cells have intermediate states and may have more practical uses than what we know about stem cells today.
The cells are known to be called as Region-Selective Pluripotent Stem Cells or rsPSCs. According to the people who have discovered this new type of stem cell, it is very different from the previously known stem cells in that they have interesting characteristics that make them much more favorable for manipulation.
They said that the new stem cells could have a stable passage in culture, have a high cloning efficiency, and it is easy to manipulate in a laboratory environment. Daley said that all of these characteristics could provide huge advantages, especially for the stem cells’ use in research and clinical applications.
There are two other distinct pluripotent cell types found in mice. These are the primed epiblast stem cells that are derived from the post-implantation embryo and the naïve embryonic stem cells, which are taken from the pre-implantation embryo.
According to the study’s co-author, Jun Wu, the researchers believed that the new stem cell’s ability to turn into highly specialized somatic cells is more effective than previous pluripotent stem cell types.
In the same research, the stem cells that were derived from pre-implantation embryos failed to differentiate because gastrulation occurred. In post-implantation mouse embryos, the stem cells are already distinguished into posterior, anterior, proximal, and distal functional orientations.
Wu and his team have discovered the right combination for creating stable rsPSCs and that is through a combination of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and serum-free media.
Although the discovery of the new stem cell type is exciting in the research and medical fields, the use of these cells in creating human-animal chimera should be further evaluated do its ethical implications.
Still, this provides an exciting avenue for the creation of chimeras for the extraction and use of tissues and organs for transplant purposes.