CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists, in what's called a stunning achievement, have transformed one type of adult mouse cell directly into another type inside a living animal.
"In a feat of biological prestidigitation likely to turn the field of regenerative medicine on its head, Harvard Stem Cell Institute co-director Doug Melton (and post doctoral fellow Qiao Zhou) report having achieved what has long been a dream and ultimate goal of developmental biologists …" the institute said in a statement.
Using a technique they call "direct reprogramming," the team transformed mouse exocrine cells, which make up about 95 percent of the pancreas, into insulin-producing beta cells.
"We're intrigued by the possibility that this approach, which has worked for pancreatic insulin-producing cells, could be more widely applied to many kind of cells, especially those that are lost in disease or following injury," Melton, who led the study, said. "And at the same time, we are exploring the possibility of using this general approach in a clinical context to make new beta cells for patients."
The work is reported in the online edition of the journal Nature.