Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Maryland report promising results from using adult stem cells from bone marrow in mice to help create tissue cells of other organs, such as the heart, brain and pancreas - a scientific step they hope may lead to potential new ways to replace cells lost in diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. The research in collaboration with the University of Paris Descartes is published online in the June 29, 2012 edition of Comptes Rendus Biologies, a publication of the French Academy of Sciences.
"Finding stem cells capable of restoring function to different damaged organs would be the Holy Grail of tissue engineering," says lead author David Trisler, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He adds, "This research takes us another step in that process by identifying the potential of these adult bone marrow cells, or a subset of them known as CD34+ bone marrow cells, to be 'multipotent,' meaning they could transform and function as the normal cells in several different organs."
University of Maryland researchers previously developed a special culturing system to collect a select sample of these adult stem cells in bone marrow, which normally makes red and white blood cells and immune cells. In this project, the team followed a widely recognized study model, used to prove the multipotency of embryonic stem cells, to prove that these bone marrow stem cells could make more than just blood cells. The investigators also found that the CD34+ cells had a limited lifespan and did not produce teratomas, tumors that sometimes form with the use of embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells cultivated from other methods that require some genetic manipulation.