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Stem cell lines created with sickle cell anaemia mutation

2 June 2008
Appeared in BioNews 460

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the US have found a faster and more efficient way to reprogramme cells into embryonic-like stem cellsso that they can be used to study genetic disorders such as sickle cell anaemia. The study was published in the journal Stem Cell last week.

The team's work was based on the recently-established technique of creating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells) from adult skin cells, which was reported in BioNews in November last year. They found that by adding a viral protein - known as SV40 large T antigen (T) - into the original iPS-generating process, which used four genes thought sufficient to reprogramme skin cells, iPS cells were created in just 12 to 14 days instead of three to four weeks. Addition of this protein also boosted efficiency of the process as much as 70-fold, the researchers report.

Linzhao Cheng, an associate professor of gynaecology and obstetrics, medicine and oncology and a member of the John Hopkins Institute of Cell Engineering, said: 'not only did T speed up reprogramming, we also found that it increases the total number of reprogrammed cells, which is great because often not all the cells go all the way'. He also warned that rigorous tests must be carried out to ascertain that the cells created in this way do in fact behave like pluripotent embryonic stem cells.

Having optimised the process, the researchers then reprogrammed cells that contained the genetic mutation associated with sickle cell anaemia. This allowed them to establish three embryonic-like stem cell lines that can be used for the study of the disease, a much sought after tool for research of genetic disorders. This is especially significant for blood diseases like sickle cell anaemia, as blood stem cells are difficult to keep alive for very long in the lab and patients have to repeatedly give samples, Cheng explained. 'Having these new cell lines available might enable some bigger projects, like screening for potential drugs', he added.

Human stem cell line made containing sickle cell anaemia mutation
Science Daily |  31 May 2008
Researchers develop stem cell line with sickle cell mutation
The Washington Post |  29 May 2008
Skin morphed into stem cells, now with sickle cell mutations
Bloomberg Press |  29 May 2008
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14 December 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
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Japanese researchers announced last week that they have advanced their understanding and ability to safely 'reprogramme' adult stem cells to resemble embryonic stem (ES) cells without inducing tumours or harmful genetic abnormalities. The Japanese team of researchers, lead by Dr Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University, reprogrammed liver...
10 December 2007 - by Katy Sinclair 
By Katy Sinclair: Researchers, reporting in Science, have announced the successful treatment of a mouse with sickle-cell anaemia using stem cell lines created from adult mouse cells. Rudolf Jaenisch, of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge Massachusetts, and Tim Townes, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, worked...
26 November 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
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