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 More genes are active in high-performance maize
19.01.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht How plants see light
19.01.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>