Stem cells are a universal part from which the body builds tissues and organs. Immature stem cells are able to self-renew, divide and further differentiate into specialized cells. Ten years ago, scientists made a very important discovery: they managed to reprogram skin cells by inserting certain genes into their DNA, so they turned into stem cells. Now, scientists from the Scripps Research Institute have managed to do the same, but without complex genetic manipulations.
Scientists have discovered special human antibodies capable of reprogrammed skin cells, turning them into stem cells without having to change their DNA. Indeed, the discovery in 2006, when researchers experimented with the Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc genes, although it was possible to achieve the desired result, but still had serious risks. The resulting cells could suddenly become cancerous, and their properties were often far from ideal.
We needed a more natural way of obtaining stem cells. It's something scientists discovered from Scripps. Antibodies are able to attach to proteins on the surface of cells and produce similar gene manipulations, but only in a natural way without penetrating the interior of the cell, thus significantly reducing the risk of getting a cancer tumor or other undesirable outcome. The research team began by collecting a library of 100 million human antibodies, and then scanned them to find the most appropriate for this manipulation.
Scientists experimented with the skin cells of laboratory mice. First, they introduced two Oct4 and Klf4 genes into them, and then a number of selected antibodies were placed into the culture, in the hope that one of them would be able to complete the process of converting the original cells into stem cells. The assumption turned out to be true, some adult cells actually became stem cells. After that, the researchers only had to find out which antibodies are capable of this, by eliminating all unnecessary ones. Repeating experiments, scientists managed to find antibodies capable of transforming cells without any interference into their nucleus and DNA. The results of the research can be found in the journal