Nature brings us an excellent paper this week
on creating embryonic stem cell-like cultures from adult mouse testes. Here is a lay article
on the findings.
This paper is great. To sum up:
1. Spermatogonial cells were purified from mouse seminiferous tubules by digesting with enzymes, then culturing with or without MEF's and LIF (aka mouse ESC medium) to make embryonic stem cell like lines. Take home message: this is a very simple technique.
2. Cells were shown in vitro
in embryoid body experiments to be pluripotent. Take home message: these cells are capable of making any type of adult cell.
3. Cells were injected into mouse blastocysts to make chimeras, which were then capable of germ line transmission of the original stem cell genotype. Take home message: this is the ultimate totipotency experiment. These are truly a powerful cell line capable of making all kinds of adult tissues and even transmission of genotype to successive generations of animals.
This is the first paper I've seen that truly bypasses embryonic stem cell ethical limitations. That bullshit about limiting ES cell potential based on making lines that lacked the ability to make embryos was just sophistry to appease those who believe in ensoulment at conception. Finally, here is a technique for making embryonic stem cells, from adults, that are syngenic with the host they come from, without destruction of embryos. Maybe we can shut the damn right-wingers up now and get ES cell research rolling in this country, but only if we can repeat this result using cells from human testicular biopsy or cadaverous donation.
Now, the downside of course, is that the ES cells are made from testicular spermatogenic cells. So, the ladies are definitely not winning out here. However, it is likely that enough ES lines could be made that most immunologic problems could be bypassed by creating lines representing all possible combinations of histocompatability, rather than making them from every single individual that needs them.
What do my fellow scientists think? Is this a good paper or what?
**update** I wrote a Diary
over at Daily Kos on the paper.