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Posted: Jun 13, 2013
Inserting genes into eye cells to restore sight
(Nanowerk News) By transferring four genes into mouse fibroblast cells, researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have produced cells that resemble hematopoietic stem cells, which produce millions of new blood cells in the human body every day. These findings provide a platform for future development of patient-specific stem/progenitor cells, and more differentiated blood products, for cell-replacement therapy.
The study, titled, “Induction of a Hemogenic Program in Mouse Fibroblasts”, was published online in Cell Stem Cell on June 13. Mount Sinai researchers screened a panel of 18 genetic factors for inducing blood-forming activity and identified a combination of four transcription factors, Gata2, Gfi1b, cFos, and Etv6 as sufficient to generate blood vessel precursor cells with the subsequent appearance of hematopoietic cells. The precursor cells express a human CD34 reporter, Sca1 and Prominin1 within a global endothelial transcription program.
“The cells that we grew in a petri dish are identical in gene expression to those found in the mouse embryo and could eventually generate colonies of mature blood cells,” said the first author of the study, Carlos Filipe Pereira, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow of Developmental and Regenerative Biology at the Icahn School of Medicine.
Other leaders of the research team that screened the genetic factors to find the right combination included Kateri Moore, DVM, Associate Professor of Developmental and Regenerative Biology at the Icahn School and Ihor R. Lemischka, PhD, Professor of Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics and Director of The Black Family Stem Cell Institute at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
“The combination of gene factors that we used was not composed entirely of the most obvious or expected proteins,” said Dr. Lemischka. “Many investigators have been trying to grow hematopoietic stem cells from embryonic stem cells, but this process has been problematic. Instead, we used mature mouse fibroblasts, picked the right combination of proteins, and it worked.”
“This discovery is just the beginning of something new and exciting and can hopefully be used to identify a treatment for blood disorders,” said Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Mount Sinai Medical Center.
According to Dr. Pereira, there is a critical shortage of suitable donors for blood stem cell transplants. Donors are currently necessary to meet the needs of patients suffering from blood diseases such as leukemia, aplastic anemia, lymphomas, multiple myeloma and immune deficiency disorders. “Programming of hematopoietic stem cells represents an exciting alternative,” said Pereira.
“Dr. Lemischka and I have been working together for over 20 years in the fields of hematopoiesis and stem cell biology,” said Dr. Moore, senior author of the study. “It is truly exciting to be able to grow these blood forming cells in a culture dish and learn so much from them. We have already started applying this new approach to human cells and anticipate similar success.”
Mount Sinai Innovation Partners is managing the intellectual property for this cell- replacement technology on behalf of the Mount Sinai researchers and is actively engaged with commercial collaboration opportunities.
About Mount Sinai Innovation Partners
Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (Mount Sinai IP), as part of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, facilitates the transfer of discovery from the laboratory to the marketplace, acting as the interface with commercial entities.
Mount Sinai IP is responsible for the full spectrum of commercialization activities required to bring the Icahn School of Medicine’s inventions to life. These activities include evaluating, patenting, marketing, and licensing new technologies, while also negotiating agreements for sponsored research, material transfer, and confidentiality. Blue Mountain Technologies is an IP program to enhance distribution of, and product development based on, Mount Sinai’s growing portfolio of novel reagents, diagnostics, and therapeutics. For more information on Mount Sinai IP, visit: http://www.mountsinai.org/innovation
About the Black Family Stem Cell Institute
The Black Family Stem Cell Institute is Mount Sinai’s foundation for both basic and disease-oriented research on embryonic and adult stem cells. The therapeutic use of stem cells is a promising area of medicine for the decades ahead and researchers are examining why stem cells function in certain types of niches, microenvironments, and pockets of activity. Investigators are working to break the code in stem cell communication by determining how stem cells signal one another and other cells. The new knowledge that will result from this research holds the promise of diagnostic and therapeutic breakthroughs.
Studies show that it is possible to reprogram adult skin cells into cells that are very similar to embryonic stem cells. Once stem cells can be grown and differentiated in a controlled way to replace degenerated cells and repair tissues, medical science may then be able to diagnose and cure many intractable diseases at their earliest stages, such as type 1 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, various cardiovascular diseases, liver disease, and cancer.