DENVER – A group of scientists at the University of Colorado has achieved positive results in an experiment with stem cells extracted from human skin, a technique that has “the potential” for successfully treating heretofore incurable diseases.
The scientists “reprogrammed” cells in both healthy and sick adults into iPSC stem cells, spurring hopes that serious illnesses can be treated and future clinical trials can be launched.
According to research chief Ganna Bilousova, with the Gates Regenerative Medicine Center at the University of Colorado, the testing so far has allowed the team to create stem cells from adult cells, something that had been a major to date.
She said that currently, out of every 1,000 adult cells, “just one or two become iPSC cells,” something that was discovered by Shinya Yamanaka in 2006 and later won him the Nobel Prize in Medicine.
“The Colorado researchers found a way to dramatically accelerate that process ... (and) improve the safety of this technology for clinical applications,” Bilousova said.
The experiment, the results of which were published Feb. 21 in Nature Communications, focused on skin diseases and on reprogramming cells into iPSC’s, or – in other words – reactivating certain inactive genes in adult cells to transform them into iPSC cells.
The new method thus allows scientists to create an unlimited quantity of iPSC cells for a patient and transplant them into his or her body.
The scientists used ribonucleic acid molecules to accelerate the transformation or reprogramming of adult cells.
Some 25,000-50,000 people in the US – and half a million worldwide – could benefit from the technique, according to DEBRA International.