Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gene called "Nanog" could be key to master cells

LONDON (Reuters) - A gene named after the mythical Celtic land of the ever young could help explain how to reprogram adult cells into embryonic stem cells to treat diseases, researchers said on Wednesday.

They discovered that the gene called Nanog helped to transform adult mouse cells into embryonic stem cells after cell fusion -- when two cells are combined to form a hybrid.

"The effect of Nanog is remarkable. All the hybrid cells became fully converted to embryonic stem cells," said Dr Jose Silva of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, who reported the findings in the journal Nature.

Stem cells are master cells in the body. Scientists believe they could act as type of human repair system to provide new therapies for illnesses ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's.

Embryonic stem cells found in early embryos have the potential to make any type of cell or tissue. Adult stem cells have a more limited range.

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