The HSCI iPS Core facility was created to accelerate research in the stem cell field by facilitating the derivation and distribution of iPS cell lines. Disease-specific iPS lines provide us with a unique opportunity to study the mechanisms of disease and ultimately to develop new treatments. The iPS Core serves as a repository for iPS cells produced by HSCI scientists and functions as a laboratory to produce disease-specific lines for sharing with the HSCI and broader research community.
“The Rise of iPS Cells”
Since the report in August 2006 by Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University that murine embryonic fibroblast cells can be reprogrammed to induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells using a combination of defined factors, rapid advancement of this technology has been demonstrated by several leading laboratories at HSCI. These advances include use of different factor combinations to develop iPS cell lines, application to human cells, and expanded cell types for derivation of iPS cell lines. The ability to develop pluripotent cells from specific population phenotypes makes this an important advance in understanding human disease and developing new therapeutics. Although to date there has been no report of the application of iPS cells in drug discovery, this new technology offers great promise for novel approaches in regenerative medicine, including human cell-based assays for target validation, lead development screens, efficacy and toxicity testing, functional pharmacogenomics, and personalized medicine.
The Harvard Stem Cell Institute, comprised of over 65 principal faculty members at eleven Harvard-affiliated hospitals and research institutions, is the world leader in elaborating the potential of iPS cells and reprogramming technology. Some of the seminal papers in the reprogramming arena recently published by HSCI faculty include:
- George Daley and colleagues’ paper in Nature reporting that iPS cells keep an epigenetic memory of their tissue of origin.
- Derrick Rossi and colleagues’s paper in Cell Stem Cell describing an innovative methodology to generate safer iPS.
- Konrad Hochedlinger and colleagues’ paper in Nature showing that an important cluster of genes is inactivated in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that do not have the full development potential of embryonic stem cells.
HSCI researchers have been at the forefront of cell reprogramming technology and the HSCI iPS Core benefits from this unique environment to fulfill its goals: the derivation of new disease-specific iPS lines and their distribution to the scientific community.