It has long been a dream of developmental biologists to easily reprogram one type of fully formed adult cell into another type of adult cell without using stem cells. By reprogramming cells, you might be able to treat many diseases where certain cells are lost or damaged, like diabetes or Parkinson's. Now, a truly exciting new study from the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) is making that dream become reality.
In a brand new study
published in the journal Nature, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) co-director Doug Melton and post doctoral fellow Qiao "Joe" Zhou report having taken one type of fully differentiated cell, called an exocrine cell (it makes gut enzymes and is involved in digesting food), and converting it into an entirely different cell using certain kinds of genes called transcription factors (a gene that encodes proteins that turn 'on' or 'off' other sets of genes). In many ways, their different
kind cell is a much more useful
kind of cell. The amazing thing? They didn't use stem cells.