A stem cell therapy system capable of regenerating any human tissue damaged by injury, disease, or aging could be available within a few years, say University of New South Wales researchers.
The system reprograms bone and fat cells into induced multipotent stem cells, which can regenerate multiple tissue types and has been successfully demonstrated in mice, according to study lead author, haematologist, and UNSW Associate Professor John Pimanda.
“We are currently assessing whether adult human fat cells reprogrammed into iMS cells can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, with human trials expected to begin in late 2017.”.
There are different types of stem cells including embryonic stem cells, which during embryonic development generate every type of cell in the human body, and adult stem cells, which are tissue-specific, but don’t regenerate multiple tissue types.
The new technique is similar to salamander limb regeneration, which is also dependent on the plasticity of differentiated cells, which can repair multiple tissue types, depending on which body part needs replacing.
Along with confirming that human adult fat cells reprogrammed into iMS stem cells can safely repair damaged tissue in mice, the researchers said further work is required to establish whether iMS cells remain dormant at the sites of transplantation and retain their capacity to proliferate on demand.
An alternate approach is to induce terminally differentiated cells to dedifferentiate into multipotent proliferative cells with the capacity to regenerate all components of a damaged tissue, a phenomenon used by salamanders to regenerate limbs.