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Johns Hopkins researchers return blood cells to stem cell state
Date:8/22/2012

genes to cells to turn on processes that convert the cells from one type (such as skin or blood) back to stem cell states. However, viruses used in this way can mutate genes and initiate cancers in newly transformed cells. To insert the genes without using a virus, Zambidis' team uses plasmids, rings of DNA that replicate briefly inside cells and then degrade. The blood cells were also given an additional new step in which they were stimulated with their natural bone-marrow environment.

For the new study, the Johns Hopkins team took cord blood cells, treated them with growth factors, and used plasmids to transfer four genes into them. They then delivered an electrical pulse to the cells, making tiny holes in the surface through which the plasmids could slip inside. Once inside, the plasmids triggered the cells to revert to a more primitive cell state. The scientific team next grew some of the treated cells in a dish alone, and some together with irradiated bone-marrow cells.

When scientists compared the cells grown using the blood cell method with iPS cells grown from hair cells and from skin cells, they found that the most superior iPS cells came from blood stem cells treated with just four genes and cultured with the bone marrow cells. These cells converted to a primitive stem cell state within seven to 14 days. Their techniques also were successful in experiments with blood cells from adult bone marrow and from circulating blood.

In ongoing studies, Zambidis and colleagues are testing the quality of the newly formed iPS cells and their ability to convert to other cell types, as compared with iPS cells made by other methods.

Efficient methods to produce virus-free iPS cells may speed research to develop stem cell therapies, using nearly all cell types, and may provide a more accurate picture of cell development and biology.


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Contact: Vanessa Wasta
wasta@jhmi.edu
410-614-2916
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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