The Institute of Biotechnology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been studying the duplicating nature of stem cells. This joint study looked into whether or not stem cells could use asymmetrical cell division to reduce duplicating damaged cells (slowing the aging process). These stem cells divided asymmetrically, producing two daughter cells. Of these two daughter cells one will become the new stem cell and the other becomes a differentiating cell (such as skin cells). It was found that stem cells keep their mitochondria separated in such a way that the cell that will differentiate is the only one to receive older mitochondria, leaving the new stem cell with fresh mitochondria. Katajisto said “This suggests that the age-selective apportioning of old and potentially damaged organelles may be a way to fight stem cell exhaustion and aging.” Katajisto laboratory is currently testing the exact difference between the young and the old mitochondria and how the cells know the difference.
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