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Scientists develop new 'F-class' pluripotent stem cells

15 December 2014
Appeared in BioNews 784

A new type of stem cell has been developed in the lab, in research described as 'groundbreaking'.

The scientists transformed adult mouse cells into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that are different to any seen before.

The cells have been dubbed 'F-class' stem cells due to their 'fuzzy' appearance. They appear to multiply more rapidly and easily than other iPS cells, and they are produced when very high levels of transcription factors are added to adult cells. The researchers say it will be more economical to produce these F-class stem cells, which can be used for drug screening and disease modelling.

'We can put these cells into a big jar of media and grow them up in a suspension, which is much more efficient, cheaper, and less work to produce a huge number of cells,' said Dr Andras Nagy, who led the research.

The cells were identified during a project led by Mount Sinai Hospital’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute. Scientists catalogued the stages a cell goes through as it is being reprogrammed, and in the process, uncovered a new 'state' of stem cell. Their research also highlighted the different properties that arise when certain cells and transcription factors are used.

'This project has been a real adventure for us into integrative biology in a new era of global science,' said Utrecht University's Dr Albert Heck, one of those involved in the research. 'Our group determined the faith of every protein during this process, picking up many known and novel markers for transitions to iPS cells and the new F-class stem cells.'

'What I find particularly exciting is that this opens up the idea that there may be different kinds of pluripotent stem cells,' Dr Paul Knoepfler, a stem cell biologist at the University of California, Davis, told The Scientist.

The extensive research was published in a series of five papers in Nature.

50 researchers, 4 countries, 4 years and over 300 million stem cells: The anatomy of a major discovery
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (press release) |  10 December 2014
An epigenomic roadmap to induced pluripotency reveals DNA methylation as a reprogramming modulator
Nature Communications |  10 December 2014
Cracking the code of cellular reprogramming
Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (press release) |  10 December 2014
Divergent reprogramming routes lead to alternative stem-cell states
Nature |  11 December 2014
Genome-wide characterization of the routes to pluripotency
Nature |  11 December 2014
New stem cell class discovery could speed up research
CBC News |  10 December 2014
New Stem Cell State
The Scientist |  10 December 2014
Proteome adaptation in cell reprogramming proceeds via distinct transcriptional networks
Nature Communications |  10 December 2014
Researchers discover new class of stem cells
Los Angeles Times |  10 December 2014
Small RNA changes en route to distinct cellular states of induced pluripotency
Nature Communications |  10 December 2014
This New Kind of Stem Cell May Revolutionize How We Treat Diseases
Time |  10 December 2014
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