A scientific discovery unveiled Wednesday could revolutionize genetic research with new screening tools and therapies.
Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center, the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute and Hebrew University have found a way to create human stem cells with only 23 chromosomes, rather than the usual 46.
Normally, cells with only 23 chromosomes, known as haploid cells, cannot divide on their own.
Most cells in the body contain information in the form of DNA, packaged into two sets of chromosomes — one from each parent, called diploid cells.
The haploid cells found in the study can be turned into any tissue in the human body, despite only containing one set of chromosomes. The discovery holds promise for therapies to treat a range of conditions, including cancer and infertility, and may even explain why humans reproduce sexually via two parents rather than one.
It will allow researchers to study genetic mutations without the “interference” of the second set and help scientists discover how genes mutate and cause devastating diseases like cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy and Down syndrome.
The study was published in the journal Nature.