Science has made impossible things into reality, with the active focus on the stem cell research, expert has landed on the possibility that human beings can be created by the skin cells.
In the past years, stem cell research is one of the absolute favorite topic in the field .
The stem cell research does not only reveal to us how our bodies function and develop, but also holds promising future applications that could help us treat severe diseases, which would not be treated otherwise.
But the most important thing is, stem cell research can do more than just treat diseases.
In a Sciencr article, highlighted the latest scientific breakthroughs to show the world how we can turn a simple skin cell into a fully-grown genetically-engineered human being.
This was made possible by the power of stem cells and genetic engineering.
In 1981, the field of stem cell research began with the discovery of the embryonic stem cells by Martin Evans at Cardiff University, UK.
In 1998, stem cells research became a hot topic in the mainstream media after scientists isolated human embryonic stem cells and grew them in the lab for the first time.
With this breakthrough, stem cell research faced a lot of resistance from the general public. It raised questions about life, consciousness and human rights. At what point does one consider life to begin? If an embryo can develop into an individual, is it justifiable to destroy it or even use it for scientific research?
Those questions pushed the U.S. government to limit the federal funding of research on human embryonic stem cells because these embryos were destroyed in the process.
Furthermore, in the late 1990s, human embryos for stem cell research were either obtained from elective abortions or donated by couples undergoing treatment for infertility In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF).
The milestone ignited a lot of controversy among anti-abortion activists who believed that human embryos should be off-limits.
Scientists began to look for other ways to create stem cells in order to overcome the ethical concerns and make everyone happy. They were confident about the therapeutic applications of stem cells, so they were determined to keep this field going despite all the restrictions.
Meanwhile, in 2006, Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka managed to create embryonic-like cells from adult (mature) cells. This breakthrough was a game changer because it meant that embryos from abortions and IVF will no longer be needed to create stem cells.
Instead, we can turn any adult cells into stem cells. By feeding these adult cells a small set of transcription factors (proteins) or reprogramming them genetically, it was possible to revert them to a pluripotent state.
Also, pluripotent state means that these new cells can potentially produce any cell or tissue the body needs to repair itself. This type of cells came to be known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs or iPS).
This revolutionary technique allowed scientists to turn any cell in the body into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) with simple reprogramming techniques.
The iPS cells could then be reprogrammed to become certain types of cells in the body.
Time went by and scientists continued to discover new ways to gain full control of stem cells and turn them into any cell in the body. Thanks to the new methods of creating stem cells and the advocacy of their therapeutic applications, the general public began to understand the importance of this field.
Because iPS cells are derived from different types of cells in the body, some people felt that genetic reprogramming is more ethical than creating embryonic stem cells from embryos or eggs. In 2009, the U.S. government lifted the 2001 restrictions on the federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
Going back to the new revolution, researchers announced in 2012 that they had treated blindness with the help of human embryonic stem cells.
According to the report, two patients with eye degeneration had their vision improved in the four months after they received implants of retinal pigment epithelial cells made from human embryonic stem cells.
Stem cells offer more therapeutic applications followed and new treatments were devised for different diseases including – but not limited to – joint injuries, heart disease, spinal cord injury, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, brain tumors, and other types of cancer.
To differentiate adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, stem cells are divided into two types in terms of their development potential. Embryonic stem cells are generally more flexible and versatile than adult stem cells. In other words, embryonic stem cells can develop into almost every type of cell in the human body while adult stem cells can give rise to a limited number of cell types.
In 2013, scientists converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells for the first time! The researchers used a cloning technique called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), which involves transplanting the nucleus of one cell, containing an individual’s DNA, into an egg cell that has had its genetic material removed.
Also, the unfertilized egg cell then develops and eventually produces stem cells.
But there was one problem: there is an egg involved in the process. We want to avoid using eggs for stem cell research to keep everyone satisfied and to avoid the controversy.
Talking more on discovery, scientists utilized a technique called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) to create embryonic stem cells, which can develop into almost every type of cell in the human body.
In 2016, researchers converted mouse skin cells into viable, fertile, mature eggs for the first time! These same eggs were fertilized to create seemingly healthy pups.
In order to achieve this, the researchers converted skin cells first into embryonic stem cells, then programmed these cells to become egg cells. This brings me back to the importance of embryonic stem cells. They have more potential and they can give rise to almost any cell type, including egg cells.
Scientists converted skin cells into egg cells and then used them to create functional embryos, which then developed and gave rise to 6 healthy pups.
Scientists converted embryonic stem cells into functional sperms, then used them to create healthy pups which went on to produce new healthy generation.