Arrow Left Go back to previous page Back to News

Donor genotype controls iPS cell differentiation


Induced puripotent stem cells derived from different cell types are equally susceptible to reprogramming, a recent study by the University of Helsinki has indicated.

The study, published in the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) journal Stem Cell Reports, disproves the assumption that an ‘epigenetic memory’ of cells from different types of tissue could impact the differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) – a cell taken from the skin or blood of a child or adult that is genetically modified to behave like an embryonic stem cell – those derived from embryos…

The assumption had been that a stem cell derived from blood would be easier to turn into a blood cell rather than any other type of cell.

Under laboratory conditions, iPS cells can be derived from human tissue and differentiated into a number of cell types, such asheart, liver or nerve cells. iPS cells can be used to study how diseases work and for drug screenings, making them ideal for biobanking – storing biological samples for research purposes.

It remains unclear whether iPScells derived from different cell types are comparable, or whether the tissue type the cell came from influences the differentiation process. TheUniversity of Helsinki researchers settled the matter by comparing stem cells derived from skin to those derived from blood using a wide range of analysis methods.

The results showed the origin of the stem cell made no difference once the cell was fully reprogrammed. All iPScells derived from different cell types have equal value in the medical field.

The researchers were surprised by how different the iPS cells derived from different donors were, with the genotype – an individual’s collection of genes – of the donor evidently shaping the differentiation behaviour of stem cells.

The study will be of particular use to bio banks as one collection can feature different source and previously stored living cell samples will remain useful for iPS cell production.

Any medical treatments derived from stem cell research will require a perfect stem cell match in order to avoid the body rejecting the donor cells or a lifetime of taking anti-rejection drugs. The best stem cells are those harvested and banked young, as they will not have deteriorated due to the ageing process or pollutants.