Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), including embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), are able to self-renew indefinitely and differentiate into a wide spectrum of cell types. Embryonic stem cells and iPSCs from mice are capable of giving rise to an entire fertile animals. Although ethical considerations preclude using this assay for human PSCs, in vitro and xenotransplantation studies indicate that human PSCs and mouse PSCs have similar differentiation potentials. This makes PSCs of potential utility in cell replacement therapy, drug discovery, toxicology testing, and comparative studies of these properties.

    The ability to reprogram differentiated cells into iPSCs by short-term over-expression of a small number of transcription factors has revolutionized the field. The iPSC technology bypasses many of the ethical concerns surrounding the derivation of human ESCs and makes it feasible to generate PSCs from species where assisted reproductive technologies have not yet been developed. In addition to mice and humans, small numbers of iPSC lines (typically one from each species) have now been generated for rat, cow, sheep, the Tibetan miniature pig, and rhesus macaque.

    There has been an explosion of studies on iPSC technology, including reprogramming from human cells as well as different cell types; new vectors and delivery modalities for expression of the transcription factors; small molecule replacement(s) for the reprogramming genes; reprogramming using micro RNAs; and derivation of different cell lineages from iPS cells. iPSC technology has undoubtedly become a powerful research tool and holds great potential in regenerative medicine.

    What We Do
    We train labs to use the latest episomal techniques to reprogram, expand and characterize human and mice iPS cells from skin or blood tissues of healthy subjects and diseased patients. We also develop the capability to differentiate the iPS cells into specific somatic cells, such as neutrons, cardiomyocytes, and hepatocytes.