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[2013/10/14] A TVGH-NYMU Collaboration Research Group Deciphers the Key of the Safety Concern in Stem Cell Therapy

[2013/10/14]

A TVGH-NYMU Collaboration Research Group Deciphers the Key of the Safety Concern in Stem Cell Therapy

A breakthrough on biomedical research has been reported by a collaboration research group between Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) and Nation Yang Ming University. A key reprograming gene, PARP1, was identified and the pluripotent cells derived from PARP1-mediated reprograming process do not form tumors.

A joint press conference was held by the university and TVGH on 30 Sep entitled "a breakthrough on the safety concern of stem cell therapy: personalized medicine is more than a dream". The press conference was housed in TVGH and co-directed by the president of NYMU, Dr. Kung-Yee Liang, and the director of TVGH, Dr. Fang-Yu Lin. Dr. Shih-Hwa Chiou (a professor from the Dept. of Pharmacology, NYMU and an attending physician in the medical research & education division, TVGH) gave a presentation about his cutting edge findings, which caught attentions of media and reporters.

Traditional method of acquiring embryonic stem cells inevitably requires the demolishment of fertilized eggs or embryos, and this evokes tremendous conflicts in ethic issues. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka from Kyodo University, Japan invented an advanced method to "reprogram" somatic cells by introducing specific genes (like c-myc and Klf-4) in differentiated fibroblasts and generate "inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSC)". The stemness properties and functions of iPSCs are very much identical to embryonic stem cells but leave out the ethical issues. Due to this finding, Shihya Yamanaka was awarded by Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012. However, the use of c-myc raised a concern, and indeed has been proved, that the reprogrammed iPSCs form tumors.

Dr. Shih-Hwa Chiou demonstrated that through a 2-year work of applying LS-MS/MS and comparing proteomic profiles, his group identified a gene, named PARP1, which can substitute c-Myc in somatic cell reprogramming. This substitution allows iPSCs to possess similar functions and properties as previously developed iPSCs and embryonic stem cells, but excludes cancer incident. This striking discovery and technique not only solves the problem of c-myc-induced cancer-formation in Yamanaka's iPSCs but also largely elevates the applicability, safety, and therapeutic potential of iPSCs in regenerative medicine and cell therapy. Dr. Chiou's research advance has been published in Journal of Experimental Medicine and is undergoing for patent applications in several countries.

The group generated iPSCs through expressing Parp1 and other 3 genes into an excised skin tissue with a 0.5 cm square area. They have successfully induced the differentiation into functional retinal pigment epithelial cells and cardiomyocytes, which can be used to select the most effective drug, such as the hypertension drug and cardiotonic, for each single patient. Take retinopathy as example, patient-specific iPSCs can be customized and then differentiate into retinal pigment epithelial cells containing the characteristics of specific patient, and then applied for drug screening to develop personalized therapy. These efforts have set a new milestone of new personalized medicine.

 

Dr. Chiou gave a presentation about his findings at the press conference.

Dr. Chiou gave a presentation about his findings in the press conference.


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