In experiments that could open a new era in stem cell biology, scientists have found a simple way to reprogram mature animal cells back into an embryonic-like state that allows them to generate many types of tissue.
The research, described as game-changing by experts in the field, suggests human cells could in future be reprogrammed by the same technique, offering a simpler way to replace damaged cells or grow new organs for sick and injured people.
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Chris Mason, chair of regenerative medicine bioprocessing at University College London, who was not involved in the work, said its approach in mice was "the most simple, lowest-cost and quickest method" to generate so-called pluripotent cells - able to develop into many different cell types - from mature cells.
"If it works in man, this could be the game changer that ultimately makes a wide range of cell therapies available using the patient's own cells as starting material - the age of personalized medicine would have finally arrived," he said.