Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A patient's own skin cells may one day treat multiple diseases

05.08.2011
UC Davis investigator provides roadmap to overcome obstacles for using induced pluripotent stem cells

The possibility of developing stem cells from a patient's own skin and using them to treat conditions as diverse as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer has generated tremendous excitement in the stem cell research community in recent years. Such therapies would avoid the controversial need for using stem cells derived from human embryos, and in theory, also bypass immunological problems inherent in using cells from one person to treat another.

However, in the nearly five years since the first article describing the development of stem cells derived from adult cells — so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) — unique problems inherent in their use have surfaced and even their immunological safety has been called into question.

According to Paul S. Knoepfler, UC Davis associate professor of cell biology and human anatomy, finding such obstacles in such a new and novel approach is not surprising and should not dissuade investigators from actively pursuing this avenue of research. A roadmap for finding solutions to the problems identified with iPSCs, written by Knoepfler and Bonnie Barrilleaux, a postdoctoral fellow working in Knoepfler's laboratory, is available online and will be published in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal Cell Stem Cell. Their perspective, "Inducing iPSCs to escape the dish," suggests research strategies to advance the field more rapidly toward applications for human diseases.

"iPSCs offer the potential to treat many diseases as an alternative or adjuvant therapy to drugs or surgery," said Knoepfler, who also is a faculty member of the UC Davis Genome Center and UC Davis Cancer Center. "Problems that have been identified with their use likely can be overcome, allowing iPSCs to jump from the laboratory dish to patients who could benefit from them."

iPSCs were first produced in 2006 from mouse cells and in 2007 from human cells. They have many of the same regenerative properties as human embryonic stem cells, but they are derived in a lab from adult cells, such as skin cells, by inducing or forcing them to express specific genes that are normally dormant in that type of cell. In theory, a person's skin cells could be induced to make neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, for example, and be delivered to brain regions where it is lacking in patients with Parkinson's disease. Similarly, cells could be induced to regenerate heart muscle and blood vessels after a heart attack, or neurons following a spinal cord injury. Many labs at UC Davis, including the Knoepfler lab, are producing and studying human iPSCs.

One advantage cited for iPSCs over stem cells derived from embryos is that problems of rejection due to immunological differences between the donor (the embryo) and the patient would be eliminated, because the iPSCs would be derived from each individual patient. A recent study using iPSCs in mice found that tissue rejection may, in fact, occur in some cases. However, Knoepfler believes that particular study was conducted in the context of tumors, which tend to be highly immunogenic and not be applicable for human use. While the ability of human iPSCs to escape immune attention must be investigated further, Knoepfler says that iPSCs remain an attractive potential avenue for stem cell-based medicine, in addition to embryonic stem cells.

Another concern with using either iPSCs or embryonic stem cells is that cells with the ability to turn into many different cell types may grow out of control, producing cancerous tumors. Knoepfler points out those studies involved implanting large numbers of undifferentiated stem cells into mice that were treated with immunosuppressant drugs to reject transplants, making the conditions ideal for cancers to arise. This scenario, he argues, is unlikely to be applicable when treating humans for actual diseases. In such cases, the stem cells would be induced to have a specific function, and the body's natural immune defenses would be present.

The "pluripotent" nature of stem cells, which potentially allow their use to repair almost any tissue, is only beginning to be harnessed for human therapies. Stem cell therapy has already been successfully used for years to treat leukemia and related bone and blood cancers. The use of iPSCs could vastly increase the spectrum of diseases that might be treated with stem cells, without the safety and ethical concerns inherent in using embryonic stem cells.

"Dr. Barrilleaux and I argue for a shift in research priorities," said Knoepfler. "Future studies of iPSCs should increasingly focus on issues most relevant to the eventual clinical use of the cells, offering the fastest pathway to treating patients with this potentially powerful therapeutic tool."

Knoepfler's own research focuses on determining how stem cell behavior is controlled during normal embryonic development as well as during healing and regeneration. He also studies how control systems go awry in developmental disorders and cancer. One key direction for the Knoepfler lab is using leading genomics technology to better understand why stem cells behave the way they do and how to change that behavior for clinical use.

Funding for Knoepfler's article was provided by a grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

ABOUT UC DAVIS STEM CELL RESEARCH

UC Davis has brought together physicians, research scientists, biomedical engineers and a range of other experts and collaborative partners to establish the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, a facility supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The $62 million institute is housed on the university's Sacramento campus, where collaborative, team-oriented science is advancing breakthrough discoveries and working to bring stem cell therapies and cures to patients. For more information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/stemcellresearch/

Charles Casey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Warming ponds could accelerate climate change
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht An alternative to opioids? Compound from marine snail is potent pain reliever
21.02.2017 | University of Utah

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>