Scientists have found a cheap and easy way to reprogram mature cells from mice back into an embryonic-like state that allowed them to generate many types of tissue, Newsmax Health reports.
The research, described as game-changing by experts in the field, suggests human cells could in the future be reprogrammed by the same technique, offering a simpler way to replace damaged cells or grow new organs for sick and injured people.
Chris Mason, chair of regenerative medicine bioprocessing at University College London, who was not involved in the work, said its approach was "the most simple, lowest-cost and quickest method" to generate so-called pluripotent cells.
Within days, the scientists found that the cells survived and recovered from the stressful stimulus by naturally reverting into a state similar to that of an embryonic stem cell.
Stem cells are the body's master cells and are able to differentiate into all other types of cells. Scientists say that, by helping to regenerate tissue, they could offer ways of tackling diseases for which there are currently only limited treatments - including heart disease, Parkinson's and stroke.
There are two main types of stem cells: embryonic ones, harvested from embryos, and adult or iPS cells, which are taken from skin or blood and reprogrammed back into stem cells.
Because the harvesting of embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of a human embryo, the technique has been the subject of ethical concerns and protests from pro-life campaigners.