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Scientists: Successfully Transformed Embryonic Stem Cells into Thyroid Cells

Recently, in a research report published in the international magazine Stem Cell Reports, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine successfully used genetically modified embryonic stem cells to regenerate thyroid cells. Researchers also used same procedures of human-based stem cells for the first time, in order to better mimic thyroid disease to better understand the cause of thyroid disease, and to develop new therapies provide some ideas.

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 or hypothyroidism, 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 in a very narrow time frame, Nkx2-1 was turned on. The expression 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. But 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 research can help to develop therapeutic or stem cell-based engineering techniques to improve the quality of life and health of patients with thyroid and other diseases.

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