After several weeks of careful planning and due to sustained efforts of our group members we were able to create our first colony of induced pluripotent stem cells. We used as a starting material the fibroblasts donated by diabetic patients, and episomal reprogramming. Good work Heidrun, Yngvild and Constantin!
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state by being forced to express genes and factors important for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic stem cells.
In 2006, Shinya Yamanaka made a groundbreaking discovery, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine: a new way to turn adult, specialized cells into stem cells. These laboratory-grown stem cells are pluripotent – meaning that they can make any other type of cell in the body. Only embryonic stem cells are naturally pluripotent, but Yamanaka’s work allows that (theoretically) any dividing cell of the body can now be turned into a pluripotent stem cell.
How are the iPS cells made? Yamanaka added four genes to skin cells from a mouse, which started a process called reprogramming and the skin cells were converted into induced pluripotent stem cells within 2 – 3 weeks. Now it is possible to do this with human cells, also.