Scientists identify gene that improves quality of reprogrammed stem cells

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London, Feb 08 (ANI): In a new research, scientists have found that a genetic molecule, Tbx3, which is important to the early developmental processes in mammals, can improve the quality of stem cells that have been reprogrammed from differentiated cells.

Experts at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), explained that stem cells reprogrammed from differentiated cells are known as induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells.

They added Tbx3 to the existing reprogramming cocktail, to successfully produce iPS cells that were much more efficient in recapitulating the entire developmental process.

The capability of iPS cells for germ-line transmission requires that iPS cells contribute to the formation of germ cells that are responsible for propagating the next generation of offspring.

The possibility of converting adult cells to embryonic cells such as iPS cells is significant to biological research, as these cells, which are similar to Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), can generate all other tissue types.

Lim Bing, lead author of the study said: "This represents a significant milestone in raising the current standards of iPS cell research. With this new knowledge, we are now able to generate iPS cells which are, or approach, the true equivalent of ESCs.

"When applied to the area of cell therapy-based medicine, we have a better inkling of what we might aim for before differentiating iPS cells to clinically useful cell types. The finding also adds to our insight into the fascinatingly, unchartered but rapidly moving field of reprogramming," Bing added.

Azim Surani, Professor of Physiology and Reproduction at the Wellcome Trust /Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, concluded: "The ability to produce iPS cells has the potential to accelerate advances in human medicine. To achieve this objective, it is important to establish iPS cells that most closely resemble authentic embryo-derived pluripotent stem cells.

"The new study by Bing Lim and colleagues shows that the inclusion of Tbx3 as one of the reprogramming factors significantly improves the quality of iPS cells. These iPS cells were superior since viable adults composed entirely of these iPS cells could be generated.

"These iPS cells also showed superior ability for contribution and transmission through the germ line, which is one of the critical criteria for assessing the quality of iPS cells."

The study has been published in the 7 Feb. 2010 online issue of 'Nature.' (ANI)

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