LA JOLLA, CA October 15, 2009 A team led by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute has developed a method that dramatically improves the efficiency of creating stem cells from human adult tissue, without the use of embryonic cells. The research makes great strides in addressing a major practical challenge in the development of stem-cell-based medicine.
The findings were published in an advance, online issue of the journal Nature Methods on October 18, 2009.
The new technique, which uses three small drug-like chemicals, is 200 times more efficient and twice as fast as conventional methods for transforming adult human cells into stem cells (in this case called "induced pluripotent stem cells" or "iPS cells").
"Both in terms of speed and efficiency, we achieved major improvements over conventional conditions," said Scripps Research Associate Professor Sheng Ding, Ph.D., who led the study. "This is the first example in human cells of how reprogramming speed can be accelerated. I believe that the field will quickly adopt this method, accelerating iPS cell research significantly."
In addition to its significant practical advantages, the development of the technique deepens the understanding of the biology behind the transformation of adult human cells into stem cells.
Tackling Major Challenges
The hope of most researchers in the field is that one day it will be possible to use stem cells which possess the ability to develop into many other distinct cell types, such as nerve, heart, or lung cells to repair damaged tissue from any number of diseases, from Type 1 diabetes to Parkinson's disease, as well as from injuries. The creation of iPS cells from adult cells sidesteps ethical concerns associated with the use of embryonic stem cells, and allows the generation of stem cells matched to a patient's own immune system, avoiding the problem of tissue rejection.
The creation of human
|Contact: Keith McKeown|
Scripps Research Institute