Stem cell application prospect, small mouse and big contribution
"Look, there are some little mice! "Oh, alive and kicking!" ... Following the sound, the reporter came to the stem cell field booth in the exhibition area of basic research and cutting-edge technologies. On the booth was a tawny transparent plastic box, inside which five small black mice jumped up and down, occasionally nibbling at two mouthfuls of chow and licking water, ignoring the onlookers.
The mouses on display at the 11th five-year national science and technology exhibition are the offspring of the famous lab rat xiao xiao. In July 2009, a team led by zhou qi, a researcher at the institute of animal sciences, China's academy of sciences, used iPS cells for the first time to clone "xiao xiao", a living laboratory mouse, which proved the versatility of iPS cells for the first time in the world, giving China a voice in the international stem cell research field.
What are iPS cells? Dr Lu zhuo, from the institute of animal sciences, part of zhou qi's research team, told the paper that iPS cells are stem cells induced from somatic cells. Stem cells are pluripotent cells with the potential to differentiate into various types of cells in the body. Somatic cells can be differentiated from stem cells, which constitute various organs in the body, including blood cells, muscle cells and so on.
The hope is to harness the limitless potential of stem cells to treat diseases -- to replace diseased organs with new ones grown from patients' stem cells. But stem cells used to be derived from embryos, which makes scientific research ethically and legally limited. "IPS cells have the same developmental pluripotency as embryonic stem cells, but they bypass many ethical and legal obstacles that embryonic stem cell research has been facing, so their application in the medical field is very promising." Lv Zhuo said.
Speaking of the application prospect of iPS cell research, lv zhuo gave an example to the reporter: diabetes occurs mainly because the insulin secreting cells in the patient's body are abnormal and cannot normally secrete insulin. In the future, when the iPS cell technology develops to a certain stage, it can transform skin cells extracted from patients with diabetes into normal insulin-secreting cells, and then implant the normal cells into patients with diabetes, so as to cure diabetes.
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