New kind of stem cell could advance regenerative medicines

New York, March 4 (IANS) Scientists have discovered a new kind of stem cell — one that could lead to advances in regenerative medicine as well as offer new ways to study birth defects and other reproductive problems.

The researchers unearthed the new cells – induced XEN cells, or iXEN – in a cellular trash pile, of sorts.

“Other scientists may have seen these cells before, but they were considered to be defective, or cancer-like,” said study lead author Tony Parenti from Michigan State University in the US.

“Rather than ignore these cells that have been mislabelled as waste byproducts, we found gold in the garbage,” Parenti noted.

The findings were reported in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

A great deal of stem cell research focuses on new ways to make and use pluripotent stem cells that can be created by reactivating embryonic genes to “reprogramme” mature adult cells.

The embryo produces not only pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, but also XEN cells, a stem cell type with unique properties. While pluripotent stem cells produce cells in the body, XEN cells produce extraembryonic tissues that play an essential but indirect role in fetal development.

Parenti and his team speculated that if the embryo produces both pluripotent and XEN cells, this might also occur during reprogramming.

The eureka moment came when Parenti discovered colonies of iXEN cells popping up like weeds in his iPS cell cultures.

Using mice models, the team spent six months proving that these genetic weeds are not cancer-like, as previously suspected, but in fact, a new kind of stem cell with desirable properties.

Even more surprising, the team found that by inhibiting expression of XEN genes during reprogramming, they could decrease production of iXEN cells and increase production of iPS cells.

The next steps of this research will involve seeing if this process occurs in human cells.

Leave a Reply

Please enter your comment!

The opinions, views, and thoughts expressed by the readers and those providing comments are theirs alone and do not reflect the opinions of or any employee thereof. is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the readers. Responsibility for the content of comments belongs to the commenter alone.  

We request the readers to refrain from posting defamatory, inflammatory comments and not indulge in personal attacks. However, it is obligatory on the part of to provide the IP address and other details of senders of such comments to the concerned authorities upon their request.

Hence we request all our readers to help us to delete comments that do not follow these guidelines by informing us at Lets work together to keep the comments clean and worthful, thereby make a difference in the community.

Please enter your name here