Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have converted cells from amniotic fluid into pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which they say are hardly distinguishable from embryonic stem cells.
The scientists have shown that the amniotic fluid iPS cells can form different human cell types and have also discovered that these induced pluripotent stem cells can remember the original cell type from which they were generated.
iPS cells derived from amniotic fluid would have a number of advantages, avoiding the moral ethical issues associated with embryonic stem cells, whilst carrying fewer environmentally-induced mutations than adult cells that are reprogrammed to iPS cells.
Amniotic fluid cells are routinely harvested in antenatal examinations to enable the early detection of disease. The amniotic fluid mixture contains different types of cells from the unborn child, including stem cell-like cells. As they are not very old, these have fewer environmentally-induced mutations, making them genetically more stable. “This may mean that it is possible to reprogramme these amniotic fluid cells faster and more easily than other cell types, making amniotic fluid-derived iPS cells an interesting complement to embryonic stem cells,” said James Adjaye of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin.
ReferencesThe LARGE Principle of Cellular Reprogramming: Lost, Acquired and Retained Gene Expression in Foreskin and Amniotic Fluid-Derived Human iPS Cells
Wolfrum, K. et al.
PLoS One 2010, 5: e13703