Found a new way to improve the work of stem cells

(ORDO NEWS) — The researchers found that the “mother” of all stem cells (the so-called totipotent stem cells) has a reduced rate of DNA replication, and therefore more efficiently turns into other types of cells.

This property has been replicated for stem cells grown “in vitro” – scientists are confident that a real revolution is coming for restorative medicine.

Types and differences of stem cells

Stem cells are “pure”, template cells that, if necessary, can turn (scientifically, differentiate) into other types of cells when the need arises. However, some of them are more versatile than others. Multipotent stem cells are found in most adult tissues and can differentiate into a limited set of cell types.

Pluripotent stem cells are at an earlier stage of the tree and are capable of dividing into almost any type of cell in the body. They, for example, can be found in developing embryos. Remarkably, the ability to transform can also be induced in adult cells, which is the basis of much of today’s regenerative medicine.

But there is an even earlier and more powerful type known as totipotent stem cells. They can differentiate into any type of cell, and only they can form structures similar to the placenta. These cells appear only during the first few days after fertilization, after which they gradually acquire “specialization”.

Totipotent stem cells can be very useful for, but the mechanism of their work is not fully understood. In a new study , scientists from the Helmholtz University of Munich and the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich have discovered a new feature of these cells that could help explain their effectiveness.

“We found that in totipotent cells, mother cells of stem cells, DNA replication occurs at a different rate compared to other, more differentiated cells,” said Tsunetoshi Nakatani, first author of the study.

How it works

DNA replication is an important process in which a cell duplicates its entire genome before dividing, so that both the original cell and the daughter cell have a copy. Totipotent stem cells can go through this process more slowly than other cells, allowing for fewer potential errors in the genome and more efficient differentiation into other cells.

The team found that natural totipotent stem cells weren’t the only ones to undergo slower DNA replication  laboratory cultured totipotent cells did the same.

“This led us to the question: if we can change the rate of DNA replication, can we improve the reprogramming of cells into totipotent cells?” Nakatani noted.

To test this idea, the researchers artificially slowed down DNA replication by limiting the amount of substrate cells use to make DNA. According to scientists, such “reprogramming” has improved the quality of the final result.

The team says this discovery could help scientists improve totipotent stem cells, boosting the effectiveness of regenerative medicine and taking it to a whole new level.

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