Since Shinya Yamanaka won the Nobel prize last year for reprogramming adult cells to an embryonic-like state–so-called iPS cells–it’s been hard to keep up with the pace of new research using these cells. For those looking for a summary, The Gladstone Institutes has recently posted a nice, accessible explanation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and how they’re being used in current research. The story focuses on projects by Gladstone Institutes scientists, many of whom are CIRM grantees (there’s a list of awards to Gladstone on our website).
The article lays out Shinya Yamanaka’s initial discovery of iPS cells, coaxing mature cells to revert back to a less differentiated state and reprogramming them to grow into a completely different kind of cell. More recently, scientists like Deepak Srivastava have figured out how to skip that intermediate undifferentiated state and transform cells directly into a new kind of cell.
In the U.S., therapies based on iPS cells haven’t started clinical trials, but researchers are putting them to present-day use as tools to test drugs and better understand disease. Gladstone scientists profiled in the article are using iPS cells to understand ailments as varied as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and HIV and elsewhere scientists are using them to study diseases as diverse as autism, schizophrenia and Huntington’s disease. In this video, Bruce Conklin, a Gladstone Institute scientist, explains how the cells can be used to study disease and also test drugs for toxicity.
CIRM funds iPS cell projects throughout California to scientists like Conklin who are trying to study diseases and test drugs as well as scientists who are developing new therapies. You can learn more about more about those awards on our website.