Adult skin cells converted by scientists into placenta-generating cells

Researchers expect the work to help women with recurring miscarriage or other placenta dysfunction disorders.
By Stephen Feller  |  Oct. 14, 2015 at 3:45 PM
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JERUSALEM, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Scientists have been able to convert adult cells into other somatic cell types for about a decade by introducing genes that reprogram them.

Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem successfully converted skin cells into placenta-generating cells using the reprogramming method, according to a press release.

The intent is to help women who have recurrent miscarriage and placental dysfunction diseases give birth to healthy babies, although researchers said more work will need to be done before that is possible. Because there has been a lack of success in isolating placenta precursor cells, researchers have had difficulty working on treatments for the conditions.

Working with mice, researchers identified three genes in mice -- Gata3, Eomes and Tfap2c -- that initiated a cell fate program that converted skin cells into fully functional placenta-generating cells. The cells look, function and contribute to placenta development the same as naturally occurring placenta cells.

The researchers will now turn their focus to generating fully-functional human placenta cells, they said in the release.

The study is published in Cell: Stem Cell.

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