A Recipe for Stem Cell Production
News Jul 09, 2013
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be of great value for medical research because they can flexibly develop into many different types of cells. However, producing these cells is challenging because the proteins that control their generation are largely unknown.
But researchers from the University of Toronto, the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital (with colleagues from the United States and Portugal) say they have identified certain proteins that play a key role in controlling pluripotency, which may mean a potential breakthrough in producing these cells.
The findings were recently published in Nature. One of the authors is Professor Brendan Frey (ECE). He said the researchers discovered the proteins using the splicing code developed a few years ago by a team led by he and U of T Donnelly Centre researcher Benjamin Blencowe. “The mechanisms that control embryonic stem cell pluripotency have remained a mystery for some time. However, what Dr. Blencowe and the research team found is that the proteins identified by our splicing code can activate or deactivate stem cell pluripotency,” Frey said.
When asked why the identification of these proteins is important, Frey gave the following analogy: “Suppose you've tasted many wonderful gourmet dishes, but you have absolutely no idea what's needed to make them. Then, one day, you discover that there's something called a ‘measuring cup’ that is used by all of the gourmet chefs. Now you understand something important about how dishes are prepared, and you also know about a ‘control knob’ that can be turned in order to make different dishes, just as adjusting the amount of butter and flour will give a different kind of pastry.”
And while a complete recipe for producing iPSCs may not be available yet, Frey said, it’s beginning to look more likely.
Scleroderma Study Offers New Hope For SufferersNews
An unusual autoimmune disease that causes skin and lung damage can be treated effectively by stem cell transplant, a new study found. The approach could represent the first new treatment to improve survival in patients with severe scleroderma in more than four decades.READ MORE
Heart-muscle Patches Created from Human Cells Improve Recovery from Heart AttacksNews
Large, human cardiac-muscle patches created in the lab have been tested, for the first time, on large animals in a heart attack model. This clinically relevant approach showed that the patches significantly improved recovery from heart attack injury.READ MORE