Suite of Monash papers shed light on decade-long stem cell mystery—8 December 2017

A series of studies led by Australian Research Council (ARC) researcher Associate Professor Jose Polo have this week shed light on vital, yet previously unclear, aspects of cell reprogramming.

Cell reprogramming, in which one type of cell can be turned into almost any other type of cell in the human body, is revolutionising medicine. It gives scientists the capacity theoretically to create any tissue to repair damaged organs such as the heart or liver, or for use in transplantation.

In 2006, the Japanese researchers who made the Nobel Prize–winning discovery of induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells identified a set of four transcription factors as being capable of turning any cell into iPS cells. These iPS cells, as with embryonic stem cells, have the potential to produce any cell of the body, but avoiding the use of embryos or carrying the risk of being rejected by the patient’s body, a limitation of transplantation. Yet more than a decade later it was still not fully understood precisely how these reprogramming factors work.

Remarkably, and testament to the world-leading research being undertaken in his lab, two of Associate Professor Polo’s studies were published within a week of each other in highly regarded Cell Press journals (Cell Reports and Cell Stem Cell), unearthing new evidence in this decade-long mystery, while a third related study was published in Nature Methods.

The study was supported by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council and the ARC Stem Cell Australia Special Initiative in Stem Cell Science. 

Media issued by Monash University.


Image: A stem cell
Credit: Public Domain (source)


Original Published Date: 
Friday, December 8, 2017