In order to use human pluripotent stem cells, they must match the tissue types of the patient. Otherwise the patient’s immune system will reject any implanted cells, unless they are administered into areas of the body outside the long reach of the immune system like the eye or the brain.
However, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are made from the patient’s own cells, by using a combination of genetic engineering and cell culture techniques and any cells that differentiated from an established iPSCs line will match the tissue types of the patient and not be rejected. Unfortunately, iPSCs take a while to make and the quality of the cell line varies from person to person. Therefore, using these cells in a clinical setting represents some issues.
A new technique that was developed at the EURAC Center for Biomedicine simplifies the method for iPSC derivation from blood cells. Instead of having to use specific reagents with isolated white blood cells, which contain a nucleus and DNA, as opposed to red blood cells, which have no nucleus, the EURAC Center for Biomedicine method does not require such reagents. This reduces cost, the time required to derive iPSCs, and the complexity of the procedure. The new EURAC Center for Biomedicine protocol will also work well on blood samples that were previously collected and preserved by freezing in a blood bank. Because it is highly convenient to store samples in this fashion, this technique is highly feasible.
This technique uses no viruses, and can readily make iPSCs to study illnesses in the laboratory. Alessandra Rossini and her colleagues succeeded in making iPSC lines from several different patients with a variety of maladies. This technique might revolutionize iPSC-making protocols.