Human embryonic stem (hES) cells can give rise to virtually all types of specialized adult cells in human body. Thus they are thought to be the potential source of the cell-transplantation therapy for the treatment of diseases such as Parkinson's disease, myocardial infarction, and diabetes mellitus. While hES cell research has made a considerable progress in developing methods to generate specialized differentiated cell types including neurons, cardiomyocytes, and insulin-secreting cells, studies to identify the key mechanisms that allow hES cells to maintain such an enormous differentiation capacity (pluripotency) have just begun. Because current culture methods to amplify undifferentiated hES cells largely rely on animal-derived materials, it is critical to eliminate such a potential pathogens from hES cell culture environments in order to use hES cells for cell therapeutic purposes.
We have recently found that a specific signaling pathway (like a hormone that mediates various biological information) controls cell-cell and cell-matrix attachment of hES cells.
The goal of the proposed study is to develop novel technologies by which hES cells can be propagated under completely defined conditions by modulating the specific signaling pathway. We will also apply this technique for propagation and generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that can be produced from adult differentiated cells.
These studies will contribute to establishing key platforms for translating pluripotent stem cell research into medical applications.
Our research will focus on developing novel technologies by which hES and iPS cells can be propagated under completely defined conditions.
The establishment of such a new method would impact virtually all hES and iPS cell-based application programs as it involves a common basic process to expand undifferentiated pluripotent stem cells before turning into any type of adult cells for the therapeutic purposes.
It is therefore predictable that the new methodology will be promptly translated as an intellectual property to be commercialized, and would substantially activate the biotechnology field in the State of California.
More importantly, the new methodology will be provided to the Institutes in California at the highest priority where the method will accelerate the process to apply the pluripotent cell-based transplantation approach for the clinical settings that would further substantiate the enhancement of the medical environment for California citizens.