Peer-Reviewed Study Proves: Adult Stem Cell Can Become Any Tissue Type

Date: 06/20/2002

Researchers at the University of Minnesota, led by Dr. Catherine Verfaillie, have proved the ability of an adult bone marrow stem cell to proliferate extensively in culture and form virtually any tissue type — properties once claimed exclusively for embryonic stem cells. Their research is published today in the peer-reviewed journal Nature (Y. Jiang et al.; “Pluripotency of mesenchymal stem cells derived from adult bone marrow” ; Nature advance online publication, 23 June 2002 (doi: 10.1038/nature00870) Reporting earlier this year (1/26/02) on Verfaillie’s research, the New Scientist said that if these adult stem cells — dubbed Multipotent Adult Progenitor Cells (MAPC’ s) — can be proven to form every tissue type “there would be no need to resort to therapeutic cloning.”

The evidence in today’ s Nature report provides this definitive proof for the abilities of the MAPC’ s to proliferate and form any tissue in the body:

  • The MAPC’s could be grown in culture over 120 generations — more than twice the number previously thought possible for adult stem cells — without losing their capacity to differentiate into other tissues.
  • The MAPC’s could be directed in culture to form specific tissues from each of the three “primary germ layers”, which are the three main developmental types of tissues — an indication that the cells can potentially form any tissue

Verfaillie and her team successfully put the adult bone marrow cells to what is considered the “gold standard” test for pluripotency (i.e. the ability to form any adult tissue) — the same test that had been used to prove the pluripotency of mouse embryonic stem cells. In addition, the MAPC’s avoid problems associated with embryonic stem cells, including tumor formation and implant rejection.