Youngest human cells bred in vitro by Chinese scientists, int’l counterparts

An international team led by Chinese scientists has successfully produced the youngest human cells in vitro, which may pave the way for advances in organ regeneration.

The study published on Tuesday in Nature, a peer-reviewed journal, announced the discovery of a rapid, controllable method to convert stem cells into bonafide eight-cell embryo-like cells, without relying on genetic engineering.

The team of researchers from China, Britain and Bangladesh, converted pluripotent stem cells, or an adult version of early embryonic cells, back to a more juvenile version of cells.

This the researchers did with developmental potential, tantamount to fertilised eggs in their day three developmental stage.

According to one of the corresponding authors, Li Wenjuan, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Totipotent eight-cell stage embryo-like cells recreate the embryonic state of a fertilised egg after only three divisions,  making them the youngest human cells acquired in vitro ever known.”

He explained that cells described as totipotent mean that they have the potential to create all types of cells within embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues.

“These cells cannot only differentiate into placental tissue but also potentially develop into more mature organs,’’ Li said.

The researchers also transplanted the eight-cell stage cells subcutaneously into adult mice, and the cells developed into complex teratomas, according to the study.

The experiment was facilitated by the single-cell sequencing technology developed by Shenzhen-based BGI-Research.

Nature noted that ethical review has given clearance to the relevant study.



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