A breakthrough discovery in generating Stem Cells

Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

A recent study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) and School of Medicine & Public Health have introduced cutting edge possibilities in precision medicine. The team suggests that Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells are an important discovery in the field of modern biomedical research.

In order to create them, it requires transforming of one cell type into a blank state. This allows it to become virtually any kind of cell in the body. These cells can be beneficial in regenerative therapies ranging from heart diseases to diabetes. The researchers, however, point out that the current system is inefficient to induce pluripotency. It was observed that only five from a batch of 100 cells could slate for reprogramming. In the recent experiment, the team at WID could improve on efficiency.  A combination of laboratory experiments and computer methods signaled on completion of pluripotency. This proved to be a faster process with an improved understanding of cell reprogramming, i.e. change from one cell type to another. For instance, the transformation of skin cell into a cardiac cell.

Moreover, the new research highlights that the transformation does not occur in a stepwise manner, which was initially the perception. Scientists believed that during reprogramming, certain steps take place sequentially. These were based on gene expression to an entire population of cells. Initial analysis believed that for cells to reprogramme successfully, the specific gene codes required to be suppressed or ‘turned off’. However, a recent study led by the research team from WID suggested a technique known as scRNA-seq which found that individual cells could activate properties of pluripotency without turning off their differentiated features. For instance, a skin cell does not have to give up being a skin cell before transforming into a cardiac cell.

Reports suggest that the WID team of researchers worked with algorithms and statistical computational methods. This helped them identify regulatory gene networks. Moreover, this also helped to modify the gene network during their cell development and differentiation. It enabled the team to spot a major breakthrough difference emerging in individual cells. It also led to clear path of efficiency in cell functioning. The study finds an increase in the success rate to around 40 percent and it also shortens the time scale of induced pluripotency.