The first “super-power” iPS cells in vivo

Publié le : 20 September 2013

 In its 12 September issue, Nature revealed that the team led by Maria Abad and Manuel Serrano at the Madrid Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) had succeeded for the first time in reprogramming in-vivo adult cells into induced pluripotent cells in mice by genetically modifying these animals. The scientists wanted to discover an "alternative formula to that devised by Professor S. Yamanaka to create iPS cells" (introduction of four genes in vitro into adult cells). 

To do this, they "created an artificial gene coaxed to react with an antibiotic to trigger the reprogramming" of murine cells genetically modified by the artificial gene. The antibiotic was then directly administered to rodents in their drinking water. Within two weeks, teratomas (tumours) had developed, "forming a jumbled mix of several tissue types". For scientists, the appearance of these tumours confirms that pluripotent cells have been reprogrammed. They were able to establish "that iPS cells produced in this way were more universal than ‘standard’ iPS cells obtained in vitro, or embryo stem cells. They could be differentiated in any type of embryonic cell as well as in embryonic precursor cells such as the placenta. Furthermore, the injection of these iPS cells into the peritoneum of other mice triggered the formation of pseudo-embryos, expressing embryonic and extra-embryonic markers".
According to Alejandro de Los Angeles and George Daley, two specialists at Harvard University, Boston (United States), this second discovery constitutes an important step towards what could become "a powerful tool in regenerative medicine, the in-situ reprogramming of tissues". According to Jean-Marc Lemaitre, Inserm Research Director at the Institut de génomique fonctionnelle (Functional Genomics Institute) in Montpellier, "this in-vivo programming allows scientists to delve even further into the cell countdown". He went on to add that, "it is hardly surprising to see teratomas appear with this type of process but their development probably depends on the tissue environment. We may be able to control it one day to regenerate tissues, organs and even missing limbs". 

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