Researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered an efficient and totally safe method to turn adult blood cells “all the way back to the way [they were] when that person was a 6-day-old embryo.” The discovery could be the key to cure the incurable—from heart attacks to severed spinal cord to cancer—and open the door, some day, to eternal youth.
Scientists believe that stem cell therapy could change medicine forever. However, these therapies are impossible to implement on a large scale because you can’t acquire embryonic stem cells without having to use actual human embryos—an extremely controversial undertaking. The alternative has always been to use the stem cells found in umbilical cords—which is why rich people use umbilical cord storage facilities to guarantee future treatments for their kids—or use viruses to reprogram adult cells. These viruses can successfully return adult cells to their stem cell state, but the procedure opens the door to numerous complications as a result of potential DNA mutations. And those mutations could lead to cancer.
But this new method changes everything. To start with, it uses normal adult blood cells from the patient, so there’s not need to keep umbilical cords in storage. It also doesn’t use any virus reprogramming, so it’s completely safe. It’s also very efficient: researchers successfully transformed about 50 to 60 percent of adult blood cells into embryonic stem cells that can then be turn into any type of cell—a heart muscle cell, a bone cell, a nerve cell, anything.