piggy-stem-cell-bankScientists at the University of Missouri claimed that they have invented a way to produce embryonic like stem cells from regular cells from a pig’s connective tissue. The new study appeared in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Researchers also claimed that this new way will help other researchers avoid the usual hurdles, side effects and genetic incompatibility between the host and donor cells .

R. Michael Roberts, Curator’s Professor of Animal Science and Biochemistry and a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center, believes that the lack of an effective and long term animal model to test new therapies could be solved by pigs, pig could be an excellent model for testing new therapies because it is so similar to humans in many ways and it could  live longer than mice.

In this study researchers followed following steps:

  • Cultured fibroblasts from a fetal pig.
  • Inserted four specific genes into the cells, to make the differentiated fibroblasts believe that they are stem cells and would derived many of the properties of stem cell that would normally be derived from embryos.

Future steps:

  • To remove the four genes that reprogrammed the original cells.
  • To find out  ways to direct the new stem cells to develop into specific cell types.

Researchers believe that as they have able to turn regular cells into stem cells so they should find a way to make the right type of tissue and then test putting that new tissue back into the animal. A specific type of cell is required rather than a mixture.

The research team includes:

Roberts; Toshihiko Ezashi, a research assistant professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and lead author on the study; and Bhanu Telugu, a post-doctoral fellow in animal sciences

Source: ScienceDaily