Regenerative medicine makes use of stem cells to spark the repair and recovery process in the body. The only FDA approved treatment is one where bone marrow stem cells are extracted from the body and then transplanted back into the patient’s body, thus initiating the process.
However, if stem cells were to be used for other treatments, we would need to have a lot more of that for it to have a tangible effect- something that is still not possible until today.
A research study that was published back in November stated that Canadian researchers were able to create multipotent, progenitor-like cells that are capable of self-renewal that may give rise to a huge number of different cells.
Thoracic Surgeon and Co-author of the study, Thomas Waddell, said that in the past, scientists were mainly focused in the last stage of the reprogramming process- one that creates induced pluripotent stem cells. However, these researchers did not take into account the creation of progenitor cells, which is why they’re left with only a few stem cells to work with.
He also added that back in the day, there were only two extremes: adult stem cells that are derived from skin cells and the induced pluripotent stem cells.
Waddell and his team isolated some club cells or a cell population of both variant and terminally differentiated cells, which may continue to proliferate as a response to injury. This was done at the site of the lungs of adult mice.
To make things clear, Waddell and his colleagues sorted the cells in order for them to collect those that only contain mature club cells that didn’t proliferate in vitro.
Doxycycline is then administered to initiate the transgenes in mice that are responsible for creating induced pluripotent stem cells. The cells that were given the dose of the said drug divided exponentially and ultimately formed some colonies, while the untreated cells did nothing substantial at all (thus, not creating colonies).
The authors of the study have determined that for them to create multipotent cells rather than induced pluripotent stem cells, they would have to expose the club cells to Doxycycline not more than three weeks.
It is during this time period where induced progenitor-like cells (or IPL) are formed and they expand quickly to form many different cell colonies. This is quite the ideal condition since prolonged exposure to the drug could lead the cells to turn into iPSCs instead. This would then lead to the increased proliferation of the right cells, which makes it so much better than following the process of creating iPSCs (which would often lead to a lower count).
This discovery can truly help create stem cell therapies that are not limited to just bone marrow transplants. The increased proliferation of the right type of cells could pave the way for treatments and cures that are not yet available today.
The only thing now would be to use this reprogramming method so that other researchers will be able to create new treatments in the future.