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New Characteristics of Nanog Stem Cells Revealed

The Scotsman, December 19, 2007

Aiding the understanding of how stem cells can be used to treat disease and injury, researchers at Edinburgh University have made new discoveries about stem cells.

Previously thought to operate like an on/off switch for duplication, the findings focus on the nanog stem cell.

But the cells actually control the efficiency with which stem cells duplicate according to findings by scientists at Edinburgh University. Nanog operates like a dimmer switch.

For use in medicine, the findings give scientists greater control over stem cell behavior.

“Stem cells have the paradoxical abilities to duplicate themselves or become specialized,” said Ian Chambers, from the university's School of Biological Sciences.

"Our studies give a new understanding of this by identifying nanog as the dimmer switch that explains the paradox."

The process of duplication will become more efficient by utilizing the dimmer switch.

For treatment for a particular disease, such as making a heart cell to treat heart disease, the switch will allow better control of development into the appropriate cells as well.


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