"Our first clinical application utilizing this technique represents a powerful example of individualized medicine," Schlegel said in September. But he cautioned, "It will take an army of researchers and solid science to figure out if this technique will be the advance we need to usher in a new era of personalized medicine."
This study was designed to see how the CRCs compared to known properties of embryonic stem cells and iPSCs, which are adult cells that have been manipulated by addition of genes to make them capable of differentiating (morphing into new adult cell types). Both embryonic stem cells and iPSCs have been investigated for use in regenerative medicine, but each can form tumors when injected into mice and "it is difficult to control what kind of cells these cells differentiate into," Schlegel says. "You may want them to be a lung cell, but they could form a skin cell instead."
In contrast, cells derived from the lung will develop stem-like properties when the conditions are added, allowing expansion of the lung cell population. However, when the conditions are withdrawn, they will revert to differentiated lung cells, he says. Schlegel added that they do this rapidly within three days of adding the inhibitor and feeder cells, they efficiently generated large numbers of stem-like cells. It is also completely reversible: when the conditions are taken away, the cells lose their stem-like properties and potentially can be safely implanted into tissue.
The researchers compared gene expression between the three cell types and found that while some of the same genes are expressed in all the cells, CRCs don't over express
|Contact: Karen Mallet|
Georgetown University Medical Center