Embryo stem cells from skin
Researchers at the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem (HU) have found a way to transform skin cells into the three major
stem cell types that comprise early-stage embryos. The work (in mouse cells)
has significant implications for modelling embryonic disease and placental
dysfunctions, as well as paving the way to create whole embryos from skin
Research team discovered a set of genes capable of transforming murine skin cells into all three of the cell types that comprise the early embryo: the embryo itself, the placenta and the extra-embryonic tissues, such as the umbilical cord.
The researchers analyzed changes to the genome function inside the cells when the five genes are introduced into the cell. The skin cells initially lose their cellular identity and then slowly acquire a new identity of one of the three early embryonic cell types. This process is governed by the levels of two of the five genes-gene ‘Eomes’ and gene ‘Esrrb’. In the future, it may be possible to create entire human embryos out of human skin cells, without the need for sperm or eggs. The discovery could help solve certain infertility problems by creating human embryos in a ‘Petri dish’.