Stem cells: Testicular cells mimic embryonic stem cells (AOP)
In a study published online this week by Nature, researchers report that they have isolated stem cells from the adult mouse testis that exhibit properties similar to embryonic stem (ES) cells. The authors propose that these cells, which might be extracted from men using a simple testicular biopsy, could provide an alternative source of stem cells for growing genetically matched therapeutic cells. This would avoid the technical and ethical difficulties associated with generating stem cells from human embryos.
Researchers already knew that certain cells in the newborn mouse testis are - like ES cells - able to generate numerous different tissue types, but they had not shown that such cells persist in the adult. Gerd Hasenfuss and his colleagues have done just that.
The team isolated sperm-producing stem cells from the mouse adult testis and showed that, under certain culture conditions, some of them grew into colonies much like ES cells. They call these cells multipotent adult germline stem cells (maGSCs). Like ES cells, maGSCs can spontaneously differentiate into the three basic tissue layers of the embryo, and contribute to the development of multiple organs when injected into embryos.
Gerd Hasenfuss (Georg-August-University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany)
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