Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Genomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Patient-Specific Stem Cells and Personalized Gene Therapy

Published: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Last Updated: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Patients’ own cells transformed into model for studying disease and developing potential treatment.

Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have created a way to develop personalized gene therapies for patients with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), a leading cause of vision loss.

The approach, the first of its kind, takes advantage of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology to transform skin cells into retinal cells, which are then used as a patient-specific model for disease study and preclinical testing.

Using this approach, researchers led by Stephen H. Tsang, MD, PhD, showed that a form of RP caused by mutations to the gene MFRP (membrane frizzled-related protein) disrupts the protein that gives retinal cells their structural integrity. They also showed that the effects of these mutations can be reversed with gene therapy. The approach could potentially be used to create personalized therapies for other forms of RP, as well as other genetic diseases. The paper was published recently in the online edition of Molecular Therapy, the official journal of the American Society for Gene & Cell Therapy.

“The use of patient-specific cell lines for testing the efficacy of gene therapy to precisely correct a patient’s genetic deficiency provides yet another tool for advancing the field of personalized medicine,” said Dr. Tsang, the Laszlo Z. Bito Associate Professor of Ophthalmology and associate professor of pathology and cell biology.

While RP can begin during infancy, the first symptoms typically emerge in early adulthood, starting with night blindness. As the disease progresses, affected individuals lose peripheral vision. In later stages, RP destroys photoreceptors in the macula, which is responsible for fine central vision. RP is estimated to affect at least 75,000 people in the United States and 1.5 million worldwide.

More than 60 different genes have been linked to RP, making it difficult to develop models to study the disease. Animal models, though useful, have significant limitations because of interspecies differences. Researchers also use human retinal cells from eye banks to study RP. As these cells reflect the end stage of the disease process, however, they reveal little about how the disease develops. There are no human tissue culture models of RP, as it would dangerous to harvest retinal cells from patients. Finally, human embryonic stem cells could be useful in RP research, but they are fraught with ethical, legal, and technical issues.

The use of iPS technology offers a way around these limitations and concerns. Researchers can induce the patient’s own skin cells to revert to a more basic, embryonic stem cell–like state. Such cells are “pluripotent,” meaning that they can be transformed into specialized cells of various types.

In the current study, the CUMC team used iPS technology to transform skin cells taken from two RP patients-each with a different MFRP mutation-into retinal cells, creating patient-specific models for studying the disease and testing potential therapies.

By analyzing these cells, the researchers found that the primary effect of MFRP mutations is to disrupt the regulation of actin, the protein that makes up the cytoskeleton, the scaffolding that gives the cell its structural integrity. “Normally, the cytoskeleton looks like a series of connected hexagons,” said Dr. Tsang. “If a cell loses this structure, it loses its ability to function.”

The researchers also found that MFRP works in tandem with another gene, CTRP5, and that a balance between the two genes is required for normal actin regulation.

In the next phase of the study, the CUMC team used adeno-associated viruses (AAVs) to introduce normal copies of MFRP into the iPS-derived retinal cells, successfully restoring the cells’ function. The researchers also used gene therapy to “rescue” mice with RP due to MFRP mutations. According to Dr. Tsang, the mice showed long-term improvement in visual function and restoration of photoreceptor numbers.

“This study provides both in vitro and in vivo evidence that vision loss caused by MFRP mutations could potentially be treated through AAV gene therapy,” said coauthor Dieter Egli, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental cell biology (in pediatrics) at CUMC, who is also affiliated with the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

Dr. Tsang thinks this approach could also be used to study other forms of RP. “Through genome-sequencing studies, hundreds of novel genetic spelling mistakes have been associated with RP,” he said. “But until now, we’ve had very few ways to find out whether these actually cause the disease. In principle, iPS cells can help us determine whether these genes do, in fact, cause RP, understand their function, and, ultimately, develop personalized treatments.”


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

DNA Abnormalities Found in Children with Chronic Kidney Disease
Routine genetic screening of children with CKD could lead to earlier, more precise diagnoses.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Global Study Discovers Flurry of New Alzheimer’s Genes
An international study has uncovered 11 new genes that increase the chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease and provide new clues to ways of fighting it.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Test Could Identify Which Prostate Cancers Require Treatment
3-gene biomarker gauges tumor’s aggressiveness.
Thursday, September 12, 2013
Columbia Licenses Novel 3-D Organ and Tumor Segmentation Software to Varian Medical Systems
Allows for more precise and efficient planning and monitoring of cancer treatment.
Friday, May 17, 2013
Study Shows Why Leukemia Returns in Some Children
With sophisticated new DNA techniques, a team of researchers has found, for the first time, why many children with a type of leukemia suffer a relapse.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Genes May Predict Response to Sole Sickle Cell Drug
Only one drug is currently available under FDA regulations, but response varies greatly from patient to patient.
Friday, February 22, 2013
Two Treatments for Retinitis Pigmentosa Move Closer to Clinical Trials
One treatment involves skin-derived induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell grafts, the other gene therapy.
Friday, December 21, 2012
New Prenatal Gene Test Proposed as Standard of Care
Findings Published in NEJM show that microarray finds significantly more clinically relevant information than current method.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Columbia Awarded One of First NCI “Provocative Questions” Grants
Timothy H. Bestor, PhD, an epigenetics researcher and professor of genetics and development at CUMC, was selected for his proposal, “Methylation Suicide in Cancer”.
Friday, September 21, 2012
DNA Repair: How Chromosomes Find Each Other
Study found that after a double-strand break in DNA, the mobility of both the broken segment and other, unbroken, chromosomes is greatly increased.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Scientific News
RNAi Screening Trends
Understand current trends and learn which application areas are expected to gain in popularity over the next few years.
The Genetic Roots of Adolescent Scoliosis
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in collaboration with Keio University in Japan have discovered a gene that is linked to susceptibility of Scoliosis.
A Gene-Sequence Swap Using CRISPR to Cure Haemophilia
For the first time chromosomal defects responsible for hemophilia have been corrected in patient-specific iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9 nucleases
New Tool Uses 'Drug Spillover' to Match Cancer Patients with Treatments
Researchers have developed a new tool that improves the ability to match drugs to disease: the Kinase Addiction Ranker (KAR) predicts what genetics are truly driving the cancer in any population of cells and chooses the best "kinase inhibitor" to silence these dangerous genetic causes of disease.
Understanding the Molecular Origin of Epigenetic Markers
Researchers at IRB Barcelona discover the molecular mechanism that determines how epigenetic markers influence gene expression.
New Tech Enables Epigenomic Analysis with a Mere 100 Cells
A new technology that will dramatically enhance investigations of epigenomes, the machinery that turns on and off genes and a very prominent field of study in diseases such as stem cell differentiation, inflammation and cancer has been developed by researchers at Virginia Tech.
Access Denied: Leukemia Thwarted by Cutting Off Link to Environmental Support
A new study reveals a protein’s critical – and previously unknown -- role in the development and progression of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a fast-growing and extremely difficult-to-treat blood cancer.
New Weapon in the Fight Against Blood Cancer
This strategy, which uses patients’ own immune cells, genetically engineered to target tumors, has shown significant success against multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that is largely incurable.
Toxin from Salmonid Fish has Potential to Treat Cancer
Researchers from the University of Freiburg decode molecular mechanism of fish pathogen.
Study Finds Non-Genetic Cancer Mechanism
Cancer can be caused solely by protein imbalances within cells, a study of ovarian cancer has found.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!