Scientists at the University of Central Florida have devised a creative way to obtain stem cells with embryonic properties -- by coaxing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to return to their roots, and display embryonic qualities. To achieve this, linkurl:Angel Alvarez;http://sugaya.ucf.edu/members.html and his co-author Kiminobu Sugaya "dedifferentiated" MSCs by over expression of the ESC gene nanog, using gene transfection. The resulting cells developed a reduced size and formed cellular clusters, a similar pattern to that seen in embryoid bodies and ESCs. These transfected cells also expressed ESC markers such as oct4 and TRA-160 for up to 11 months in culture, and proliferated at a higher rate. Importantly, the cells also had the potential to differentiate into neurons and astrocytes. Alvarez told me during his poster presentation last night during this year?s linkurl:Keystone meeting;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cells that the process is, in some respects, taking MSCs back in time. He added that...
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