Researchers develop more efficient system to reprogram stem cells

Researchers report that using the measles virus vector, they have trimmed the process down to a single “one cycle” vector process

Original source: Stem Cells Portal

Induced pluripotent stem cells, the workhorse of many regenerative medicine projects, start out as differentiated cells that are reprogrammed to pluripotent stem cells by exposure to a complex set of genetic cocktails. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic now report that using the measles virus vector, they have trimmed that process with four reprogramming factors down to a single “one cycle” vector process.

They say the process is safe, stable, faster and usable for clinical translation.

“If we’re going to successfully use reprogrammed stem cells to treat patients in the clinic, we need to ensure that they are safe and effective; that is, not prone to the risk of mutation and potential tumors,” said Patricia Devaux, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic molecular scientist and senior author of the study. “The measles virus vector has long been used safely at Mayo for treating cancer, so it is very safe. Now that we’ve combined a multiple-vectors process into one. It’s efficient as well.”

Previously, the four reprogramming factors – proteins OCT4, SOX2, KLF4 and cMYC – had to be introduced individually to the cells to induce them to change in the proper fashion for the desired outcome. That led to potential partially reprogrammed cells, as not all cells received the four factors required for reprogramming.

The new Mayo process combines those factors within the measles virus vector, so the process happens in one step and all targeted cells have the potential to reprogram. The measles virus vaccine strain is often used today because it is safe, fast and targetable.

The researchers say a clinically applicable reprogramming system free from genomic modifications will go a long way to making widespread use of induced pluripotent stem cell therapies feasible. These are therapies in which an individual’s own cells are reprogrammed can then be use to work in a particular diseased organ, thus avoiding risk of cell rejection.

The study appears in Gene Therapy.