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New Study Outlines Virus- and Oncogene-Free Reprogramming Method for iPSC Production

IOWA CITY, IA (US), December 2018 — A new study presents a novel approach for the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) without the need to use viruses and, more importantly, the standard oncogenes (cancer genes) used to produce iPSCs. The stem cells, which the research team says are safe and non-controversial, are created from cord blood and peripheral blood obtained from donors.

The researchers were led by Alan Moy, M.D., director of the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, Iowa City, Iowa. They published their findings early online in Regenerative Medicine.

The study creates new opportunities to extend the diversity and lifelong utility of cord blood, according to the research team. Parents currently bank their child's cord blood for presumed future private use. However, private cord blood storage has several shortcomings, which include rare and limited therapeutic indications during childhood, as well as an insufficient number and diversity of stem cells to treat chronic disease in adulthood.

The study also reports on the creation of iPSCs from peripheral blood in patients with cystic fibrosis and alpha one antitrypsin deficiency, a genetic cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The production of safer pluripotent stem cells from peripheral blood offers more predictive patient models of disease for drug development without untoward influences from viral and oncogenic effects.

In addition, the approach provides a safer autologous (patient's own) pluripotent stem cell therapy for future use. The technology aims to advance personalized and regenerative medicine, drug discovery and bio-banking. Virus- and oncogene-free iPSCs are expected to offer broader utility than the direct use of cord blood for a diverse spectrum of diseases, including neurodegenerative, cardiopulmonary, retinal, arthritic, metabolic and autoimmune disorders and cancer.

"This virus and oncogene-free iPSC reprogramming for CD34+ cells and adherent cells represents a milestone that addresses the safety challenges inherent with pluripotent stem cell therapies," Dr. Moy said.

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