Molecule Cocktail Reprograms Cells

Molecule Cocktail Reprograms Cells

Author: ChemistryViews

Due to the ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells, ways of converting fully differentiated, mature cells into stem cells is a growing area of research. Four transcription genes are currently required to convert mature cells into stem cells, but once these are inserted into a cell, they permanently alter the host cell’s DNA and potentially induce tumors or interrupt functions of other normal genes. One alternative is to use drug-like small molecules to reprogram the cell.

Sheng Ding and co-workers, Scripps Research Institute, USA, have reported a cocktail of small molecules that, with the gene OCT4, enables reprogramming of human skin cells into stem cells. The team found that a combination of PS48, a small molecule activator of 3′-phosphoinositide-dependent kinase-1, and sodium butyrate, a histone deacetylase inhibitor, could enhance the reprogramming efficiency of keratinocytes isolated from human skin or hair follicles over 25-fold.

This allows three out of the four transcription genes to be replaced. Ways to replace OCT4 are now being studied by the team.

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