More Germ Cell News
The big news of the weekend continued to be the German researcher team’s ability to differentiate many kinds of cells from the cells that produce sperm in mice. A press release in Genetic Engineering News
today describes a similar development by a California biotech firm, PrimeGen. Because it is a press release it is somewhat short on the scientific details, but it says that the researchers are further along than the Germans. Data is to be presented this week at a conference. Another paper has been submitted for peer review to an unspecified publication.
The California researchers extracted germ cells—those which create sperm--from the testes of human males (not mice!) and have used a “proprietary process” to reprogram the germ cells to differentiate. They have so far differentiated them into heart, brain, bone and cartilage cells. The press release says that the new cell “retains the most conserved, highest-quality DNA generated by an organism. It suffers no damage from aging, chronic disease or injury. It is also shielded from free radical, ribosomal and mitochondrial damage -- all inherent limitations of adult stem cells, until now.” The company is also trying to create a female model.
The company is in talks to sell its cell to researchers outside the US for treatment of people with cardiac conditions.
The press release included a statement from the executive vice-president of research saying that the company was pleased to see its work confirmed by the German scientists. They must feel a little bit like their thunder was stolen. Doing this in people is even more significant than doing it in mice!
I do want to know more of the science—one of the things I hate about press releases is how all the interesting details are cloaked under the language of “proprietary”—but it sounds pretty significant anyway. Therapeutic efficacy is still unestablished, of course.