A Research Blog

In 2006, Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka and colleagues discovered that mature cells can be reprogrammed and reverted to a stem-cell-like state. Known as induced pluripotent cells (iPSCs), these cells have the ability to develop into any cell type. This discovery was stunning enough that Yamanaka was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his revolutionary work on reprogramming adult cells, and spurred thousands of related publications.Owen

The field of reprogramming has generated a lot of excitement in recent years because iPSCs are a revolution in regenerative medicine, which seeks to replace tissue or organs damaged by disease, trauma, or congenital issues. In addition, reprogramming presents the possibility that we could generate patient-specific cell-types to model disease or use as a cell therapy. However, in order to be able to utilise these cells to their fullest extent, it is important that we fully understand the reprogramming process. To do this we need to study the process starting from many different cell types, not only from a single source. To date, fibroblasts have most often been used as a source cell type for reprogramming simply because they are easy to acquire and manipulate. In other words, fibroblasts was chosen for convenience rather than because of an important biological role in reprogramming. As such, much of what we know about this process is derived from work on fibroblasts and we assume that what we have learned from this conversion also holds true for other cell types.

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