Scientists have Successfully Transformed Embryonic Stem Cells into Thyroid Cells

Researchers from Boston University Medical School have successfully regenerated thyroid cells from genetically modified embryonic stem cells in a study published recently in the International Journal Stem Cell Reports. For the first time, researchers have used similar steps based on human stem cells to better simulate them. It can help us better understand the causes of thyroid diseases and provide some new ideas for the treatment.

In the United States, thyroid diseases affect about 10% of the population. Thyroid diseases include Graves'disease and Hashimoto's disease, which can lead to hyperthyroidism, thyroid nodules, goiter or cancer. 

Researchers engineered mouse embryonic stem cells cultured in the laboratory to express a special gene: Nkx2-1, which is important for thyroid development. When the researchers briefly turned on/off the Nkx2-1 gene, they guided embryonic stem cells through several steps. The results showed that the gene was expressed in the following three steps: In a very narrow time frame, turning on the expression of Nkx2-1 can transform most embryonic stem cells into thyroid cells. 

Dr. Laertis Ikonomou pointed out that this new method can help us produce a large number of targeted cell types: thyroid cells, while it can also be used to study other clinically related cell types, such as lung cells, insulin-producing cells and liver cells. Researchers hope that this study will help develop therapeutic or stem cell-based engineering technologies to improve the quality of life and health of patients with thyroid and other diseases. 

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