Rare stem cells could repair complex tissues

Repairing complex tissues damaged by disease or trauma could become a lot easier as scientists have now discovered the potential of rare very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs).

VSELs isolated from human adult tissues could provide a new source for developing regenerative therapies to repair complex tissues, showed two related studies.

The studies show the ability of these most-primitive, multipotent stem cells to differentiate into bone, neurons, connective tissue, and other cell types, and the proper criteria for identifying and isolating VSELs.

The articles are available on the Stem Cells and Development website.

In one study, researchers from University of Michigan and NeoStem, a biopharmaceutical company in US implanted human VSELs into the cavity created by a cranial wound and provided the first demonstration that they could generate tissue structures containing multiple cell types.

The other study explore the challenges in isolating these rare stem cells and the importance of not confusing VSELs with other types of embryonic or reprogrammed adult pluripotent stem cells, or with monopotent adult stem cells.

The researchers presented the most current descriptions and terminology for characterising VSELs.

“The current debate as to the significance of the body of publications concerning VSELs can only be resolved by a cooperative investigation across laboratories using identical methodologies and source materials,” said Graham C. Parker from Wayne State University School of Medicine in the US.

Both the studies appeared in the journal Stem Cells and Development.

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