In a recent paper, researchers have shown that all immature cells that will become gut cells, can develop into stem cells. Partially funded by INTENS, the findings could help improve stem cell therapy.
Stem cells are found throughout our bodies and play a lead role in repairing and renewing our tissues and organs. For example, stem cells in our gut make new gut lining cells to replenish old ones.
Up to now, it was thought that whether or not an immature gut cell becomes a gut stem cell – or other gut cell – was predetermined. This new discovery changes things – researchers found the signals from the cells’ environment to be the cause.
Looking to the future, if these signals are uncovered, researchers could be better able to create the cells of choice for regeneration or cell therapy.