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New data on pluripotent stem cells released: a greatly promising alternative to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cerebral infarction treatment

An international team of researchers, which counts with the participation of the University of Granada, has unveiled some details about stem cells biology unknown to this day, which will be essential for the application of said cells in human therapy.

An adult’s stem cells can be artificially “reprogrammed” to a pluripotent state similar to that found during embryonic development. That way, these pluripotent reprogrammed cells keep the potential needed for regenerating any cell or tissue of an organism

An international team of researchers, which counts with the participation of the University of Granada (UGR), has unveiled some details about stem cells biology unknown to this day. This is a very promising alternative to the treatment of various human diseases, specially those induced by tissue damage or degeneration, such as cerebral infarction, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

Their work, published in the renowned Cell Reports magazine in July 16 2015, reveals very important functional links between epigenetic regulation of the human genome, cell signaling pathways and the cellular heterogeneity phenomenon in pluripotent stem cells.

This research thus contributes to a better understanding of cell lineage transitions and unveils some details about stem cells biology unknown to this day, thus contributing to the application of said cells in human therapy.

David Landeira Frías, researcher from the Department of Computer Science and A. I. of the University of Granada and one of the authors of this paper, indicates that recent advances in the field of biomedicine “let us artificially reprogramme body cells of an adult organism to a pluripotent state similar to that found during early embryonic development”.

That way, these pluripotent reprogrammed cells keep the potential needed for regenerating any cell or tissue of an organism.

Performance differences

“One of the greatest obstacles to a safe and successful application of this technology in clinical settings is the heterogeneous nature of stem cell populations; functional variations among cells belonging to the same population cause great differences in their performance, which could lead to therapy failure and even to the development of new diseases”, warns the researcher from the UGR.

The so called “cell to cell variations” happen in cells with the same genome and, for that, it’s very likely that epigenetic modulators have a critical role in the generation of functional heterogeneity.

Using cutting-edge epigenomic techniques, David Landeira’s laboratory in the Centre for Genomics and Oncological Research (GENYO) (Pfizer-Regional Government of Andalusia-UGR), in collaboration with Amanda Fisher’s laboratory in the MRC-Clinical Science Centre (United Kingdom), has analysed the function of an epigenetic regulator (Jarid2) in creating intercellular variability in pluripotent stem cell populations.

The research results show that Jarid2 “is an essential factor for pluripotent cells keeping a proper interaction with cells in their environment, thus being able to efficiently carry out cell differentiation processes”.

Moreover, the researchers have proven that Jarid2 regulates the heterogeneity and function of pluripotent cells through signaling pathways usually involved in various types of cancer, so this research is also relevant in this disease context.