Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Stem Cells, Cellular Therapy & Biobanking
>
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Salk Scientists Develop Faster, Safer Method for Producing Stem Cells

Published: Friday, December 07, 2012
Last Updated: Friday, December 07, 2012
Bookmark and Share
The new method boosts cell yields and increases safety, helping to get another step closer to regenerative medicine.

A new method for generating stem cells from mature cells promises to boost stem cell production in the laboratory, helping to remove a barrier to regenerative medicine therapies that would replace damaged or unhealthy body tissues.

The technique, developed by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, allows for the unlimited production of stem cells and their derivatives as well as reduces production time by more than half, from nearly two months to two weeks.

"One of the barriers that needs to be overcome before stem cell therapies can be widely adopted is the difficulty of producing enough cells quickly enough for acute clinical application," says Ignacio Sancho-Martinez, one of the first authors of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, the Roger Guillemin Chair at the Salk Institute.

They and their colleagues, including Fred H. Gage, professor in Salk's Laboratory of Genetics, have published a new method for converting cells in this week's Nature Methods.

Stem cells are valued for their "pluripotency," the ability to become nearly any cell in the body. Stem cells for research and clinical uses are derived in two ways, either directly from cells young enough to still be pluripotent, or from mature cells that have been "reprogrammed" to be pluripotent.

The first kind are called "embryonic stem cells," (ESCs) even though the term is a misnomer. They are actually taken from blastocysts, the hollow bundle of cells approximately the size of a tip of a pin that is formed by a fertilized egg after five days of cell division. After a blastocyst implants in the uterus, the embryo stage begins.

Aside from the well-known ethical controversies, ESCs have a less discussed problem: Tissues grown from ESCs may trigger immune reactions when they are transplanted into patients.

In order to overcome both ethical and medical concerns, scientists learned how to coax mature cells (called "somatic cells") that had differentiated into particular types of tissue back to their pluripotent state. These so-called "induced pluripotent stem cells," or iPSCs, set off whole new rounds of research, including a third way to get desired cell types.

As it turns out, iPSCs have their own problems. They take a long time to create in the lab, in a highly inefficient process that can take up to two months to complete. First, somatic cells must be reprogrammed to iPSCs, which takes considerable time and effort. Then, the iPSCs have to be differentiated into specific cell lineages prior to therapeutic application. Far worse, they can sometimes develop into tumors, called teratomas, which can be cancerous.

Knowing this, scientists wondered if it might not be necessary to go all the way back to the blank slate of a pluripotent stem cell. Key to this idea is that pluripotent stem cells do not immediately grow into particular cells. They go through intermediate progenitor phases where they become "multipotent," and can only develop into cell types within a certain cellular lineage. While a pluripotent cell can become nearly any cell in the body, a multipotent blood cell, for example, can become red or white blood cells or platelets, but not distant lineages such as neurons.

Thus, in order to avoid the potential problems of working with iPSCs, scientists developed the technique of "direct lineage conversion." Unlike the familiar scenario, in which a pluripotent cell would divide and generate all different cell types of an adult individual, in direct lineage conversion one somatic cell is turned into just one other cell type, thus, for example, one skin cell becomes one muscle cell, but nothing else.

While this technique is effective, the Salk team and their colleagues wondered if there might be a modification that could be both more efficient and safer.

"Beyond the obvious issue of safety, the biggest consideration when thinking about stem cells for clinical use is productivity," says Salk post doctoral researcher Leo Kurian, a first co-author on the paper.

The team developed a new technique, which they dubbed "indirect lineage conversion" (ILC). In ILC, as explained in detail in Nature Methods, somatic cells are pushed back to an earlier state suitable for further specification into progenitor cells.

ILC has the potential to generate multiple lineages once cells are transferred to the team's specially developed chemical environment. Most importantly, ILC saves time and reduces the risk of teratomas by not requiring iPSC generation. Instead, somatic cells are directed to become the progenitor cells of particular lineages. "We don't push them to zero, we just push them a bit back," Sancho-Martinez says.

Using ILC, the group reprogrammed human fibroblasts (skin cells) to become angioblast-like cells, the progenitors of vascular cells. These new cells could not only proliferate, but also further differentiate into endothelial and smooth muscle vascular lineages. When implanted in mice, these cells integrated into the animals' existing vasculature.

"One of the long-term hopes for stem cell research is exemplified by this study, where stem cells would self-assemble into 3D structures and then integrate into existing tissues," says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte.

While such clinical use may be years away, this new method has several advantages over current techniques, he explains. It is safer, since it does not seem to produce tumors or other undesirable genetic changes, and results in much greater yield than other methods. Most important, it is faster, and this is part of what makes it not only more productive, but less risky.

"Generally it can take up to two months to create iPSCs and their differentiated derivatives, which increases the chances for mutations to take place," says Emmanuel Nivet, the third of the first co-authors. "Our method takes only 15 days, so we've substantially decreased the chances for spontaneous mutations to take place."

Other researchers on the study were: Aitor Aguirre, Krystal Moon, Caroline Pendaries, Cecile Volle-Challier, Francoise Bono, Jean-Marc Herbert, Julian Pulecio, Yun Xia, Mo Li, Nuria Montserrat, Sergio Ruiz, Ilir Dubova, Concepcion Rodriguez, Ahmet M. Denli, Francesca S. Boscolo, Rathi D. Thiagarajan, Jeanne F. Loring and Louise C. Laurent.


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 2,500+ 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

New Stem Cell May Overcome Hurdles for Regenerative Medicine
Scientists have discovered a novel type of pluripotent stem cell capable of developing into any type of tissue whose identity is tied to their location in a developing embryo.
Monday, May 11, 2015
Vital Step in Stem Cell Growth Revealed
Salk scientists' finding could aid regenerative and cancer therapies.
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Salk Scientists Discover a Key to Mending Broken Hearts
Researchers regenerate and heal mouse hearts by using the molecular machinery the animals had all along.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Turning Human Skin Cells Into Immune-Fighting White Blood Cells
The fast and safe technique developed at the Salk Institute circumvents problems that have hindered regenerative medicine.
Friday, September 12, 2014
No Extra Mutations in Modified Stem Cells, Study Finds
New results ease previous concerns that gene-editing techniques-used to develop therapies for genetic diseases-could add unwanted mutations to stem cells.
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Salk Institute Receives $3M Gift for Ageing Research
The gift from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research will allow the Institute to continue conducting research to understand the biology of normal human aging and age-related diseases.
Friday, May 23, 2014
New Stem Cell Research Points to Early Indicators of Schizophrenia
Salk scientists show fundamental differences in early neurons from patients with schizophrenia, supporting the theory that risk for the disease may begin in the womb.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Salk Institute and Stanford Lead New $40M Stem Cell Genomics Center
Collaborative research center will bridge genomics and stem cell projects to find new therapies.
Sunday, February 02, 2014
Salk Scientists Discover more Versatile Approach to Creating Stem Cells
New method should hasten promise of regenerative medicine.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Researchers Chart Epigenomics of Stem Cells That Mimic Early Human Development
Collaborative study will help overcome hurdles to using stem cells to treat diseases and injuries.
Friday, May 10, 2013
Salk Institute Awarded Historic $42 Million Grant to Establish Center for Genomic Medicine
World-renowned research facility receives largest single donation in its 53-year history.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Salk Scientists Pinpoint Key Player in Parkinson's Disease Neuron Loss
Stem cell study may help to unravel how a genetic mutation leads to Parkinson's symptoms.
Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Reprogramming Signature may help Overcome Barriers to Regenerative Medicine
Salk scientists show nine genes at heart of epigenetic changes in induced pluripotent stem cells.
Friday, September 21, 2012
Scientists Identify Gene Crucial to Normal Development of Lungs and Brain
Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a gene that tells cells to develop multiple cilia, tiny hair-like structures that move fluids through the lungs and brain. Discovery may lead to new ways to replace damaged lung tissues.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Editing Scrambled Genes in Human Stem Cells may Help Realize the Promise of Combined Stem Cell-gene Therapy
Researchers at the Salk Institute successfully edited a diseased gene in patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells as well as adult stem cells.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Scientific News
The Mending Tissue - Cellular Instructions for Tissue Repair
NUS-led collaborative study identifies universal mechanism that explains how tissue shape regulates physiological processes such as wound healing and embryo development.
Tissue Bank Pays Dividends for Brain Cancer Research
Checking what’s in the bank – the Brisbane Breast Bank, that is – has paid dividends for UQ cancer researchers.
iPS Cells Discover Drug Target for Muscle Disease
Researchers have designed a model that reprograms fibroblasts to the early stages of their differentiation into intact muscle cells in a step towards a therapeutic for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Engineered Hot Fat Implants Reduce Weight Gain
Scientists at UC Berkeley have developed a novel way to engineer the growth and expansion of energy-burning “good” fat, and then found that this fat helped reduce weight gain and lower blood glucose levels in mice.
Transplanted Stem Cells Can Benefit Retinal Disease Sufferers
Tests on animal models show that MSCs secrete growth factors that suppress causes of diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.
MRI Scanners Can Steer Therapeutics to Specific Target Sites
Scientists from the University of Sheffield have discovered MRI scanners, normally used to produce images, can steer cell-based, tumour busting therapies to specific target sites in the body.
Team Finds Early Inflammatory Response Paralyzes T Cells
Findings could have enormous implications for immunotherapy, autoimmune disorders, transplants and other aspects of immunity.
Early Detection of Lung Cancer
The University of Manchester has signed a collaboration agreement with Abcodia to perform proteomics studies on a cohort of non-small cell lung cancer cases from the UKCTOCS biobank, with the aim of discovering new blood-based biomarkers for earlier detection of the disease.
Researchers Identify Drug Candidate for Skin, Hair Regeneration
Formerly undiscovered role of protein may lead to the development of new medications that stimulate hair and skin regeneration in trauma or burn victims.
Basis for New Treatment Options for a Fatal Leukemia in Children Revealed
Detailed molecular analyses allow new insights into the function of tumour cells and options for new treatments.
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
2,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!