Chinese scientists discover key protein to more efficiently produce stem cells

Date:2011-11-21litingting  Text Size:

BEIJING, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists have discovered a key protein which could help to more efficiently produce induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells.

IPS cells are a kind of stem cells artificially derived from non-pluripotent cells which have huge potential for bioengineering and medical applications to cure human diseases.

A research team from Guangzhou Institute of Biomedicine and Health along with the Chinese Academy of Sciences identified a special enzyme which is able to significantly improve efficiency of Vitamin C to transform a body cell to an IPS cell.

The inspiring discovery was published in an online edition of an international journal "Cell, Stem Cell" on Nov. 18, and will be published in a print edition in December.

Cellular reprogramming and its efficiency of the IPS cells have puzzled scientists around the world for many years, although the IPS cells are believed to be of great significance in organ transplant, gene therapy and more other fields.

In 2009, the research team, headed by Prof. Pei Duanqing, identified vitamin C as a key ingredient that enhances cellular reprogramming.

"Our work has not only identified the enzyme that enhances reprogramming, more importantly revealed the barrier for reprogramming, which may pave the way for further understanding of the reprogramming process and also provide a rationale to further improve this technology," said Dr. Pei.

"This is a highly significant piece of work. It is an important next milestone towards a better molecular understanding of the mechanism of cellular reprogramming towards pluripotency and in general," said Dr. Marius Wernig, a stem cell biologist with Stanford University. 

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