Lemons Help Reprogram Adult Cells

These cells revert to their stem state

According to a new scientific study, it may be that the vitamin C contained in fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruits may in fact be aiding the reprogramming of adult cells in the body back to their stem state. Vitamin C is one of the most appreciated chemicals in the world, and it is renowned for its swift and decisive effects in preventing a large number of diseases, including cancer, as well as for the fact that it can help alleviate conditions such as the common cold faster than with medication alone.

In the scientific paper, which appears in the December 24 issue of the respected scientific journal Cell Stem Cell, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences propose that the presence of vitamin C acts like a catalyst for the morphing of differentiated, adult cells back to their stem, embryonic-like form. Needless to say, the findings could have considerable implications for the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine. The second aims at creating new organs from the patients' own stem cells. This would ensure that a transplant goes smoothly, without the risk of rejection.

“The low efficiency of the reprogramming process has hampered progress with this technology and is indicative of how little we understand it. Further, this process is most challenging in human cells, raising a significant barrier for producing iPSC and serious concerns about the quality of the cells that are generated,” Dr. Duanqing Pei, who is the senior author of the new study, says. The expert is based at the CAS Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health (GIBH) South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are currently the best regenerative medicine can do in the field of transforming developed cells back into stem cells. But the conversion is extremely inefficient, and only minor portions of the targeted cell cultures are reverted. The process is also very time-consuming and expensive, so research groups have been looking for an alternative for a very long time.

“Our results highlight a simple way to improve iPSC generation and provide additional insight into the mechanistic basis of reprogramming. It is also of interest that a vitamin with long-suspected anti-aging effects has such a potent influence on reprogramming, which can be considered a reversal of the aging process at the cellular level. It is likely that our work may stimulate further research in this area as well,” Dr. Pei concludes, quoted by ScienceDaily.

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