The stem cell research It is one of the areas of science that is bringing us more novel discoveries in recent times.
Having cells that can be differentiated and specialized in the form of other cell types is a great tool to rebuild damaged tissues and try all kinds of diseases.
However, the stem cells that had been obtained so far were all diploid (with two copies each chromosome), so they are a problem when study and edit genes concrete. To solve this problem, a group of researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalemthe of NY and the Columbia University Medical Center, have designed a way to obtain stem cells with all the characteristics of the conventional ones, but a single set of chromosomes, and the results have turned out to be very promising.
What is the difference between haploid and diploid cells?
To understand this finding, it is important to familiarize yourself with two terms: haploid and diploid.
As you know, the human genome consists of 46 chromosomes, of which 23 are of paternal origin and the other 23, maternal. This occurs in all those cells that are not sexual, known as somatic; and therefore they are considereddiploid.
However, the sex cells they only have 23 chromosomes, the paternal ones in the spermatozoon and the maternal in the void, so we can say that they are haploid.
If we think about human fertilizationThis is very logical, since the egg and the sperm, each with 23 chromosomes, fuse, giving rise to zygote, which will have the sum of both and will be differentiated to give rise to all embryo cells.
How have these researchers obtained haploid stem cells?
As I was saying, the embryo cells that form after fertilization are diploid, so the embryonic stem cells obtained so far were also.
To change this result, these scientists chose to activate the division of unfertilized human eggs (haploid) and then labeled the DNA of the resulting cells with fluorescence, to be able to select the few haploids that resulted and that were mixed with a large number of diploids.
Why is this discovery so useful?
This discovery is of great importance for two main reasons.
On the one hand, it can help scientists to deeply understand the mechanisms of human development and the reasons why we reproduce sexually.
On the other hand, it can be very useful in the treatment of diseases through gene therapy, since it facilitates the individual study of genes, by eliminating the need to take into account the contribution of the paternal and maternal chromosome.
Look at something that a priori may seem very simple greatly facilitates this type of research. In fact, these scientists are optimistic and hope that they have taken another step towards curing diseases like blindness or diabetes, and even for the improvement of treatments assisted reproduction.
And all for a set of chromosomes.