Chinese scientists find new method of reprogramming cells

Michael Cook
21 Jul 2013
Reproduced with Permission

Chinese scientists have created induced pluripotent (iPS) cells by adding chemicals but not extra genes that might cause mutations or cancer. Hongkui Deng, a biologist at Peking University in Beijing, and his team screened thousands of small molecules to find chemical substitutes for the Oct4 gene which has been a key element in reprogramming cells.

They call the chemically induced pluripotent cells CiPSCs.

Using seven chemicals they were able to get 0.2% of cells to convert to iPS cells, a proportion similar to the rates in other techniques. The researchers have proved that the cells are pluripotent by introducing them into mice, where they developed into all the major cell types, including liver, heart, brain, skin and muscle. While the technique is promising, its safety and efficacy still must be proven in humans.