The power of regenerative medicine now allows scientists to transform skin cells into cells that closely resemble heart cells, pancreas cells and even neurons. However, a method to generate cells that are fully mature—a crucial prerequisite for life-saving therapies—has proven far more difficult. But now, scientists at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), have made an important breakthrough: they have discovered a way to transform skin cells into mature, fully functioning liver cells that flourish on their own, even after being transplanted into laboratory animals modified to mimic liver failure.
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have devised a new method that allows for the more efficient—and, importantly, more complete—reprogramming of skin cells into cells that are virtually indistinguishable from heart muscle cells. These findings, based on animal models and described in the latest issue of Cell Reports, offer newfound optimism in the hunt for a way to regenerate muscle lost in a heart attack.
A cure for type 1 diabetes has long eluded even the top experts. Not because they do not know what must be done—but because the tools did not exist to do it. But now scientists at the Gladstone Institutes, harnessing the power of regenerative medicine, have developed a technique in animal models that could replenish the very cells destroyed by the disease. The team’s findings, published online today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, are an important step towards freeing an entire generation of patients from the life-long injections that characterize this devastating disease.
What does it mean to be human? According to scientists the key lies, ultimately, in the billions of lines of genetic code that comprise the human genome. The problem, however, has been deciphering that code. But now, researchers at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered how the activation of specific stretches of DNA control the development of uniquely human characteristics—and tell an intriguing story about the evolution of our species.