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article imageCan electromagnets 're-program' cells?

By Tim Sandle     Oct 25, 2014 in Science
Scientists have reported that electromagnetic exposure facilitates cell reprogramming. Not all scientists are convinced.
Researchers have shown, through a published paper, that exposing mouse cells, called fibroblasts, to low frequency electromagnetic fields aids techniques that can be used to re-program the cells to enter a pluripotent state (that is, returning the cell to a condition where it is capable of developing into any type of cell or tissue.) This is apparently through the electromagnetism enhancing histone methylation. Histone methylation is a process by which methyl groups are transferred to amino acids of histone proteins of chromosomes. Scientists who work in the field of epigenetics use the process to study heritable changes that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence.
According to The Scientist, the use of electromagnetism has proved controversial and not all of the scientific community are convinced. For example, Derek Lowe wrote at his blog, In the Pipeline, said: "I have trouble with is the mechanism by which an enzyme gets induced by low-frequency electromagnetic fields, and that's always been the basic argument against such things."
In response, Jongpil Kim, the senior author of the study and a professor at Dongguk University in Korea, responded: “To immediately discount the validity of the findings without actually attempting to reproduce the central experimental finding is not only non-scientific, but borders on slanderous. We suggest that these individuals take their skepticism to the laboratory bench so that something productive can result from the time they invest prior to their criticizing the work of others."
However this plays out, it will be an interest field of science to follow. The results, if supported, could have a significant influence upon the direction of stem cell research.
The paper in question has been published in the journal ACS Nano. The paper is titled "Electromagnetic Fields Mediate Efficient Cell Reprogramming into a Pluripotent State."
More about Electromagnetic, Cells, Stem cells
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