MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL (March 5, 2013) Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Lillehei Heart Institute have combined genetic repair with cellular reprogramming to generate stem cells capable of muscle regeneration in a mouse model for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
The research, which provides proof-of-principle for the feasibility of combining induced pluripotent stem cell technology and genetic correction to treat muscular dystrophy, could present a major step forward in autologous cell-based therapies for DMD and similar conditions and should pave the way for testing the approach in reprogrammed human pluripotent cells from muscular dystrophy patients.
The research is published in Nature Communications.
To achieve a meaningful, effective muscular dystrophy therapy in the mouse model, University of Minnesota researchers combined three groundbreaking technologies.
First, researchers reprogrammed skin cells into "pluripotent" cells cells capable of differentiation into any of the mature cell types within an organism. The researchers generated pluripotent cells from the skin of mice that carry mutations in the dystrophin and utrophin genes, causing the mice to develop a severe case of muscular dystrophy, much like the type seen in human DMD patients. This provided a platform that would mimic what would theoretically occur in human models.
The second technology employed is a genetic correction tool developed at the University of Minnesota: the Sleeping Beauty Transposon, a piece of DNA that can jump into the human genome, carrying useful genes with it. Lillehei Heart Institute researchers used Sleeping Beauty to deliver a gene called "micro-utrophin" to the pluripotent cells they were attempting to differentiate.
Much like dystrophin, human micro-utrophin can support muscle fiber strength and prevent muscle fiber injury throughout the body. But one key difference between the two is in
|Contact: Caroline Marin|
University of Minnesota Academic Health Center