Year 2

Many kinds of disease do not require whole organ transplantation, but can be cured by replacement of specific cell types. Embryonic stem cells have great potential for such cell therapy because they can in principle be instructed to produce an infinite number of cells that provide the function missing or impaired in a diseased organ. However, a major obstacle towards using human embryonic stem cell-derived cells for cell therapy is the immune reaction they provoke after transplantation. Unless the transplanted cells are fully matched to the recipient’s immune system, immune-suppressive drugs have to be used which have severe side effects. Alternatively, immune matching can be achieved by producing cells for cell therapy from a patient’s own cells. This can be achieved by transferring or recapitulating the capabilities of embryonic stem cells in skin cells or other types of somatic cells. Our research produced tools that might allow producing patient-derived embryonic stem cell-like cells that are safe for clinical application.