Stem Cell research has made impressive progress over the last decade. In 2012, Shinya Yamanaka was awarded the Nobel Prize along with Sir John Gurdon for discovering a method to revert mature cells back into pluripotent cells, a special kind of cell that has the ability to grow into any other cell that the body might need. These cells, named iPS or induced pluripotent stem cells, could change the way diseases like heart attacks are treated and could allow for new treatment methods for diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Just this month, scientists working at Mount Sinai Hospital Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto have announced a new method of cell reprogramming that could eventually lead to increased stem cell use in the clinical setting. Publishing a series of papers in Nature, the scientists describe a new class of stem cell, the “F class,” which were generated in the lab.
These F class stem cell have several advantages over the previously discovered iPS cells which might allow for their use in the clinical setting. This new form of reprogramming uses an already commonly used antibiotic called doxycycline to turn on or off specific genomes. This process would be a safer alternative to Dr. Yamanaka’s method of using a virus to alter an adult cell’s genetic information.
It is important to remember that both these methods are still only being used in the lab. There are still significant hurdles to pass before bringing these methods to the clinical application phase. Currently, the only allowed clinical applications are like those performed by us at SmartChoice® Stem Cell where we use the patient’s OWN adult stem cells, without storing or altering the cells in any way, to treat medical conditions. As the leader in adult stem cell treatments, it is an exciting time to look out and see the possibility of adding these new research methods to our treatment offerings in the near future.