Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

RNA offers a safer way to reprogram cells

26.07.2010
New technique could revert cells to immature state that can develop into any cell type

In recent years, scientists have shown that they can reprogram human skin cells to an immature state that allows the cells to become any type of cell. This ability, known as pluripotency, holds the promise of treating diseases such as diabetes and Parkinson's disease by transforming the patients' own cells into replacements for the nonfunctioning tissue.

However, the techniques now used to transform cells pose some serious safety hazards. To deliver the genes necessary to reprogram cells to a pluripotent state, scientists use viruses carrying DNA, which then becomes integrated into the cell's own DNA. But this so-called DNA-based reprogramming carries the risk of disrupting the cell's genome and leading it to become cancerous.

Now, for the first time, MIT researchers have shown that they can deliver those same reprogramming genes using RNA, the genetic material that normally ferries instructions from DNA to the cell's protein-making machinery. This method could prove much safer than DNA-based reprogramming, say the researchers, Associate Professor of Electrical and Biological Engineering Mehmet Fatih Yanik and electrical engineering graduate student Matthew Angel.

Yanik and Angel describe the method, also the subject of Angel's master's thesis, in the July 23 issue of the journal PLoS ONE.

However, the researchers say they cannot yet claim to have reprogrammed the cells into a pluripotent state. To prove that, they would need to grow the cells in the lab for a longer period of time and study their ability to develop into other cell types — a process now underway in their lab. Their key achievement is demonstrating that the genes necessary for reprogramming can be delivered with RNA.

"Before this, nobody had a way to transfect cells multiple times with protein-encoding RNA," says Yanik. (Transfection is the process of introducing DNA or RNA into a cell without using viruses to deliver them.)

In 2006, researchers at Kyoto University showed they could reprogram mouse skin cells into a pluripotent, embryonic-like state with just four genes. More recently, other scientists have achieved the same result in human cells by delivering the proteins encoded by those genes directly into mature cells, but that process is more expensive, inefficient and time-consuming than reprogramming with DNA.

Yanik and Angel decided to pursue a new alternative by transfecting cells with messenger RNA (mRNA), a short-lived molecule that carries genetic instructions copied from DNA.

However, they found that RNA transfection poses a significant challenge: When added to mature human skin cells, mRNA provokes an immune response meant to defend against viruses made of RNA. Repeated exposure to long strands of RNA leads cells to undergo cell suicide, sacrificing themselves to help prevent the rest of the body from being infected.

Yanik and Angel knew that some RNA viruses, including hepatitis C, can successfully suppress that defensive response. After reviewing studies of hepatitis C's evasive mechanisms, they did experiments showing they could shut off the response by delivering short interfering RNA (siRNA) that blocks production of several proteins key to the response.

Once the defense mechanism is shut off, mRNA carrying the genes for cell reprogramming can be safely delivered. The researchers showed that they could induce cells to produce the reprogramming proteins for more than a week, by delivering siRNA and mRNA every other day.

Source: "Innate Immune Suppression Enables Frequent Transfection with RNA Encoding Reprogramming Proteins" by Matthew Angel and Mehmet Fatih Yanik. PLoS ONE 23 July, 2010

Jennifer Hirsch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

Further reports about: DNA DNA-based Mehmet PLoS One RNA Transfection cell type human cell human skin human skin cells skin cell

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History

nachricht New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>