Method pioneered by OHSU researcher could become gold standard for creating embryonic stem cells

Stem cell colony developed through SCNT

Stem cell therapies hold great promise for replacing cells that have been damaged by injury or illness. Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University recently compared two methods to create human pluripotent stem cells—those which can be transformed into any other cell type in the body—and have found a clear winner. Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) appears to be more accurate at reprogramming human skin cells to become embryonic stem cells and produces fewer epigenetic abnormalities than inducing pluripotent stem cells (iPS). The findings were published online on July 2 in Nature by OHSU’s Shoukhrat Mitalipov, Ph.D., and colleagues. Dr. Mitalipov, director of the OHSU Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy, was the first to successfully use SCNT to create human embryonic stem cells in May 2013.

“We think the difference is remarkable,” Dr. Mitalipov said. “The SCNT method faithfully erases the memory of the skin cell and converts it into an embryonic stem cell. The iPS method produces a cell with significant differences and abnormalities.”

This study is the first of its kind to systematically compare SCNT and iPS using the same set of skin cells. Its findings could greatly influence the field of regenerative medicine and the future development of stem cell therapies.

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The research was funded by OHSU, the Leducq Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Salk International Council Chair endowment fund and the Mary K. Chapman Foundation.