Stem cells have revolutionized treatments and have the potential to cure many diseases. This has led to exhaustive research in the domain leading to new path-breaking discoveries every now and then. A recent one in that direction is the uncovering of a new protein extremely important for the production of iPS cells, short for induced pluripotent stem cells.
The protein identified by the researchers at the School of Medicine is called NKX3-1. Earlier, it was found to have played a role in the development of prostate and suppression of tumor. This particular variety of protein can act as a substitute for one of the four proteins that were uncovered in 2007 by researchers in stem cells. Like the previously discovered proteins, it can prod cells in in the blood and skin, which are mature, to become iPS cells. This change is known as reprogramming in the domain of stem cells.
Reprogramming in Laboratory Can Help Generate Stem Cells
This is a crucial progress that would serve to provide more information on cellular reprogramming about which little has been known so far. The discovery of the new protein could pave the way for new methods to create iPS cells inside a controlled environment, artificially.
It can be achieved by leveraging a novel laboratory model for reprogramming that synchronizes properly the initial steps in the process. A good understanding of how reprogramming takes place, believe researchers, would allow to unravel new processes of creating stem cells that are perfectly alright for clinical use.