Navigation Links
Reprogrammed stem cells hit a roadblock

It's a discordant note in the symphony of good news that usually accompanies stem cell research announcements. Stem cells hold enormous promise in regenerative medicine, thanks to their ability to regenerate diseased or damaged tissues. They have made it possible to markedly improve the effectiveness of many medical treatments muscle regeneration in cases of dystrophy, skin grafts for treating burn victims, and the treatment of leukemia via bone marrow transplants.

The problem is obtaining them. Those that are the true source of life, in the first days of embryonic development, are of course the most highly sought after; still undifferentiated, they are "pluripotent," meaning they can evolve into liver, muscle, eye any kind of cell. But the issue of how to obtain them clearly raises insurmountable ethical questions.

"In this regard, the recent discovery of the "reprogramming" phenomenon, by which somatic cells can be induced to convert to a pluripotent state simply by forcing the expression of a few genes, opens a phenomenal number of possibilities in regenerative medicine," says Didier Trono, Dean of the EPFL School of Life Sciences. "Imagine, for example, collecting a few cells from the hair follicle of a hemophiliac patient, reprogramming them to the pluripotentiality of their embryonic precursor, correcting the mutation responsible for the coagulation disorder that plagues the patient, and then re-administering them, genetically "cured," after having orchestrated a differentiation into fully functional progeny."

Increased risks for cancer?

But a study that has just been published in the journal Cell Death and Differentiation, to be followed by two articles in the journal Nature, is dampening those hopes. Conducted by the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Geneva and the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, with the participation of Trono's laboratory, it concludes that these reprogrammed cells exhibit a "genomic instability" that appears to be caused by the process used to return the cells to their embryonic state. Even more serious, the genetic mutations observed resemble mutations that are found in cancer cells. The scientists draw the conclusion that reprogrammed stem cells need to be extensively investigated before they can even be considered for use in regenerative medicine.

The experiments were done using mouse mammary and fibroblast cells. The researchers used three different processes for reprogramming the cells to a "stem," or embryonic, state. The first method was developed expressly for this study, and the others have already been well documented.

Yet all the processes led to the same, implacable conclusion: the genetic anomalies multiplied, in a manner that seems to indicate that they are inherent to the reprogramming process itself, which typically makes use of oncogenes. "Interestingly, oncogenes have the potential to induce genomic instability," the authors explain.

These results underline the necessity of conducting further studies. First, to see if the genetic anomalies are serious enough to compromise the function and stability of cells regenerated using the reprogrammed cells; and second, to "refine the methods used for generating induced pluripotent cells, in order to avoid this problem. These results will thus motivate scientists to come up with a solution," concludes Trono.


Contact: Emmanuel Barraud
Ecole Polytechnique Fdrale de Lausanne

Related biology news :

1. FDA funds pediatric trial testing genetically reprogrammed HSV to treat cancer
2. Genetically reprogrammed HSV given systemically shrinks distant sarcomas
3. Reprogrammed human blood cells show promise for disease research
4. Study reveals a reprogrammed role for the androgen receptor
5. Study finds blood cells can be reprogrammed to act as embryonic stem cells
6. Researchers piggyback to safer reprogrammed stem cells
7. Stanford researchers develop new technology for cheaper, more efficient solar cells
8. Sleeping Trojan horse to aid imaging of diseased cells
9. Living in the matrix: Sugar residues regulate growth and survival of nerve cells
10. Clay-armored bubbles may have formed first protocells
11. MicroRNA cocktail helps turn skin cells into stem cells
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/26/2016)... Research and Markets has announced ... 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  , ,     (Logo: ... analysts forecast the global multimodal biometrics market to ... period 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics is being ... the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and government for ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 15, 2016  A new partnership announced today ... underwriting decisions in a fraction of the time ... and high-value life insurance policies to consumers without ... With Force Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and ... (blood pressure, weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... April 14, 2016 BioCatch ... Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal Goldwerger ... role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at a ... of the deployment of its platform at several of ... technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, is ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT has announced the creation ... biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics Inc. ("Propellon" or "the ... a portfolio of first-in-class WDR5 inhibitors for the ... WDR5 represent an exciting class of therapies, possessing ... for cancer patients. Substantial advances have been achieved ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... YORK , June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign ... to envision new ways to harness living systems and ... Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City ... than 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste ... Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Apellis ... Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement C3 ... single and multiple ascending dose studies designed to ... (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult volunteers. ... (SC) either as a single dose (ranging from ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality ... 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still ...
Breaking Biology Technology: