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Local Researchers Learn What Makes Stem Cells Work

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Aired 5/3/10

San Diego researchers have learned what makes stem cells different from mature cells.

— San Diego researchers have learned what makes stem cells different from mature cells.

Stem cells are immature cells that can be engineered to be any cell in the body. But it's never been entirely clear why stem cells are different from mature cells.

Scientists at Scripps Research Institute have discovered that stem cells are so flexible because they contain many molecules that are not highly oxidized. They also found that chemically blocking oxidation can prevent cells from maturing and becoming distinct.

Scripps biologist Gary Suizdak, who co-wrote the paper, said this knowledge will help doctors use stem cells to regenerate damaged tissue.

"It's ultimately going to give us a better understanding of what's happening during the regenerative process," he said, "and hopefully give us a whole new set of molecules that might promote healing in a more effective way."

The research paper was published this weekend in the journal Nature Chemical Biology.

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