In early October, Japanese scientist, Shinya Yamanaka shared the Nobel Prize for medicine or physiology with British researcher, John Gordon for discovering that bodily cells, such as skin or hair cells can be reprogrammed into stem cells: a brilliant discovery that has the potential of embryonic-like cells that can become any kind of tissue.
When Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute announced the $1.2 million award, they stated that Yamanaka’s 2006 discovery of four transcription factors could degenerate mature cells into primitive cells, induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells, which could be reprogrammed into different kinds of mature cells has “revolutionized our understanding of how cells and organisms develop.”
In the last few years, Boston University’s Center of Regenerative Medicine has built on this technology, namely by making it more efficient and expanding the applications—10 times higher than previously reported studies. Prior research studies relied on four different transcription factors in separate virus vectors to transfer genes into cell’s DNA. Gustavo Mostoslavsky’s, Boston University Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Gastroenterology Section, milestone discovery places all four transcription factors in one virus vector coined the “stem cell cassette or STEMCCA.”
“The use of a single lentiviral vector for the derivation of iPS cells will help reduce the variability in efficiency that has been observed between different laboratories, thus enabling more consistent genetic and biochemical characterizations of iPS cells and the reprogramming process,” the researchers concluded.
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