Scientists Have Been Able to Reprogram Human Somatic Cells into Pluripotent Stem Cells

Cellular reprogramming can manipulate the identity of cells to generate the desired cell types. The use of cell-intrinsic components, including oocyte cytoplasm and transcription factors, can enforce somatic cell reprogramming to pluripotent stem cells. 

By contrast, chemical stimulation by exposure to small molecules offers an alternative approach that can manipulate cell fate in a simple and highly controllable manner.

In a recently published study, researchers from China led by Hongskui Deng reported that they were able to use only chemical compounds to reprogram human cells into stem cells. One fun part is that the induced cells shared similar properties with axolotl limb regeneration cells. 

Axolotls have an incredible regenerative ability, they can turn back the clock on their adult stem cells, reprogramming them back into stem cells. They can basically regenerate their whole limbs and in some cases even parts of their brains, spines, and hearts. 

The team demonstrated, by creating an intermediate plastic state, the chemical reprogramming of human somatic cells into human chemically induced pluripotent stem cells that exhibited key features of embryonic stem cells. 

They also identified the JNK pathway as a major barrier to chemical reprogramming, the inhibition of which was indispensable for inducing cell plasticity and a regeneration-like program.

The approach used by the researchers could provide a platform for application in human pluripotent stem cells in regenerative medicine and biomedicine. 


Lei Lei Wu. (2022, Apr 25). Axolotls, chemical cocktails, and a new route for stem cell therapy- maybe. 

Guan, J., Wang, G., Wang, J. et al. Chemical reprogramming of human somatic cells to pluripotent stem cells. Nature (2022). 

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