Columbia University Medical Center

First Patient-Specific Human Embryonic Stem Cells Created

Embryonic stem cells from an adult with type 1 diabetes were created by transferring the nucleus from a skin cell of the patient into a donor oocyte. Image: Bjarki Johannesson, NYSCF, and Nature.

Embryonic stem cells from an adult with type 1 diabetes were created by transferring the nucleus from a skin cell of the patient into a donor oocyte. Image: Bjarki Johannesson, NYSCF, and Nature.

Using somatic cell nuclear transfer, a team of scientists led by Dieter Egli, PhD, an assistant professor of developmental cell biology (in pediatrics) at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) who is also with the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute, and Mark Sauer, MD, professor of obstetrics & gynecology at CUMC, has created the first disease-specific embryonic stem cell line with two sets of chromosomes.

The embryonic stem cells were created from two different donors, one an adult with type 1 diabetes, and could be differentiated into insulin-producing beta cells, the cell type lost in type 1 diabetes. The results were published April 28 in Nature; Robin Goland, MD, and Rudolph Leibel, MD, co-directors of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at CUMC, are co-authors of the paper.

In a news release from NYSCF and CUMC, Dr. Egli said,

“[B]y reprograming cells to a pluripotent state and making beta cells, we are now one step closer to being able to treat diabetic patients with their own insulin-producing cells.”

Though it is now possible to derive stem cell lines with a patient’s genotype using iPS technology, it is not clear how similar iPS cells are to naturally occurring embryonic stem cells, or which stem cell is preferable for cell replacement therapies.

In somatic cell nuclear transfer, embryonic stem cells are created by adding the nuclei of adult skin cells to unfertilized donor oocytes. In 2011, the team reported creating the first embryonic cell line from human skin using nuclear transfer, however, those cells had three sets of chromosomes and could not be used for new therapies.

In the new study, the scientists found that the addition of specific chemicals, called histone deacetylase inhibitors, and the integrity of the plasma membrane during manipulation were important factors in successfully generating embryonic stem cells with two sets of chromosomes.

Read the full press release for more information.

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