Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Technology
In 2007, the laboratory of Shinya Yamanaka demonstrated that human fibroblasts could be "reprogrammed" from their differentiated state to that of pluripotent stem cells by the introduction of four transcription factors (Oct4, c-Myc, Sox-2, and Klf4). James Thomson later demonstrated the ability to accomplish this reprogramming through the introduction of Oct4, Sox-2, Lin28, and Nanog. These reprogrammed cells, referred to as "induced pluripotent stem cells" (iPSCs), have the potential to become any cell type within the body and offer several advantages to other types of human pluripotent stem cells. Most notably, iPSCs circumvent the ethical issues associated with the destruction of human embryos to generate human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). Additionally, iPSCs avoid the problems associated with immune rejection because they are derived from patient-specific cells, thus making them more attractive for regenerative medicine. Finally, iPSCs contain the genetic composition of the patients from whom they were derived and afford the opportunity to study diseases of known genetic disorders. Consequently, iPSCs hold great potential for the study and treatment of human disease. Since Yamanaka's seminal research, others have successfully reproduced his findings and the field of iPSC technology is rapidly growing, along with the demand by investigators to incorporate this powerful tool in their research. To meet this demand and enhance the research efforts of Washington University, the iPSC Core Facility was created.