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Fibrocell/UCLA Study on Human Skin Cells Yields Promising Results

Published: Thursday, March 21, 2013
Last Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2013
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Research has resulted in a discovery that may lead to a more predictable, commercially viable method of producing stable, induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from adult skin cells.

The study has been accepted for publication in the Stem Cell Research and Therapy peer-reviewed journal and the provisional paper is available online. It was conducted under the guidance of James Byrne, PhD, assistant professor, UCLA Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research.

“We continue to be pleased with the results of our collaboration with UCLA to pursue the full potential of fibroblasts,” said David Pernock, CEO and Board Chair, Fibrocell Science.

The cells may be used by academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies to evaluate new drug compounds for safety and to develop patient-specific therapies for multiple disease states, including heart disease, Parkinson’s disease and diabetes. Using skin cells is more advantageous to the patient than obtaining cells from bone marrow or adipose tissue (fat). A skin biopsy is quicker to perform, less painful and minimally invasive.

Dr. Byrne’s study found human skin cells cultured in the presence of a chemical known as BAY11 resulted in reproducible increased expression of the OCT4 gene that did not inhibit normal cell growth. OCT4 is involved in many cell processes, but is primarily known to maintain pluripotency and regulate cell differentiation. It is typically used as a marker to identify undifferentiated cells.

The development of a more stable method to create iPS cells from skin cells allows for the potential of a reproducible commercial manufacturing process. The study was performed at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research and Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA in conjunction with the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience at Rutgers University.

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