SAN FRANCISCO, CA--July 5, 2012--Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered that environmental factors critically influence the growth of a type of stem cell--called an iPS cell--that is derived from adult skin cells. This discovery offers newfound understanding of how these cells form, while also advancing science closer to stem cell-based therapies to combat disease.
Researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Senior Investigator Shinya Yamanaka, MD, PhD, have for the first time shown that protein factors released by other cells affect the "reprogramming" of adult cells into stem cells known as induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells. The scientistswho collaborated on this research with colleagues from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)announce their findings today online in Cell Stem Cell.
In 2007, Dr. Yamanaka discovered a recipe of specific proteins to add to human skin cells as a way to induce them into becoming iPS cellswhich act very much like embryonic stem cells. Many see iPS cell technology as a new platform for drug discovery and the study of disease fundamentalswhile avoiding the ethical issues surrounding research involving embryonic stem cells. But questions remain about the most efficient way to cultivate iPS cells.
"We've reinforced our hypothesis that the cell's environment is vital to the reprogramming process," said Dr. Yamanaka, who did his postdoctoral studies at Gladstone in the 1990s, returning here in 2007 as a senior investigator. "We can now expand our understanding of cell developmentand use iPS cells to model conditions such as Alzheimer's and heart disease."
Normally when researchers convert skin cells into iPS cells, the cells rest on a special layer of materials in a petri dish. The layer includes "feeder" cells that provide nutrients required for the iPS cells to grow and reproduce. In this study, performed at the Roddenberry Center for Stem Cell Biol
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