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Cell therapy a little more concrete thanks to VIB research
Date:2/21/2013

h as skin cells back to stem cells, so-called "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPS cells). This earned him the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2012 (shared with John Gurdon). These iPS cells can be generated using only 4 "reprogramming factors".

As is the case with embryonic stem cells, these iPS cells can be used to produce other cell types, such as heart muscle cells or nerve cells. They can also be cultured indefinitely and there are no ethical objections as they are not obtained from human embryos left over after IVF, but from adult individuals. Furthermore, iPS cells are obtained from the patient and this reduces the risk of rejection during therapeutic applications.

Essential research possible

Before iPS cells can be used effectively and safely as a therapy, it is essential that we gain clear insight into which molecular mechanisms determine the identity of a cell; why and how a cell develops into for example a heart muscle cell, a nerve cell or a blood cell. In order to do so, Lieven Haenebalcke and Jody Haigh have developed a mouse model that will enable them to conduct this research. They succeeded in creating iPS cells from a variety of mouse cells. Furthermore, the new model allows the investigators to replace the 4 reprogramming factors in these iPS cells efficiently with specific genes in order to create targeted different cell types, such as functional heart muscle cells.

Lieven Haenebalcke (VIB/UGent): "It enables us to study in a relatively simple manner the molecules that play a role in the formation and the identity of various cell types. Using this knowledge, we can then manipulate the identity of cells in a more targeted fashion and then conduct pre-clinical tests to determine whether these new cells are suitable, for example to repair heart tissue or blood vessels."


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Contact: Sooike Stoops
sooike.stoops@vib.be
32-924-46611
VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology)
Source:Eurekalert

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