Reprogramming pig cells leads way for new regenerative therapies

Researchers find they can take somatic skin cells from pigs, program them into iPSCs and then inject them back into the same animal to treat the disease.

 

Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison

via National Hog Farmer - Sep 20, 2022

 

A new approach is paving the way for improved stem cell therapies and regenerative applications using cells from pigs. Led by Wan-Ju Li, a SCRMC researcher and associate professor in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, this new study published in Scientific Reports offers a viable strategy to enhance the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells from large animal cells and provides researchers with insight into the underlying mechanism controlling the reprogramming efficiency of cells. In turn, this approach will allow researchers to reprogram cells more efficiently into iPSCs which can be used to study regenerative therapies aimed at treating everything from osteoarthritis to heart disease.

 

While this approach can be applied to regenerative therapies targeting any organ or tissue, Li and his Musculoskeletal Biology and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory study cartilage, so he developed the model by deriving iPSCs from the fibroblast cells of three different breeds of miniature pigs including Wisconsin miniature swine, Yucatan miniature swine and Göttingen minipigs. Fibroblast cells are easily obtained for cellular reprogramming and Li is interested in using these cells to efficiently develop cartilage cells that can be used to help patients experiencing osteoarthritis. But, while his goal for the study was specific, the model has wide-reaching implications.

 

"This model we created can be used for many applications," says Li. "In successfully developing iPSCs from three different breeds of minipigs, we learned we can take somatic skin cells from these pigs that we programmed ourselves into iPSCs and then inject them back into the same animal to treat the disease. Or we can take the cell that carried the disease gene and put that into the culture dish and use that as a disease model to study disease formation."

 

Li explained that iPSCs can be created from nearly any type of somatic cell, such as skin or blood cells, that are reprogrammed back into an embryonic-like pluripotent cells. These pluripotent stem cells are the body’s master cells and are, therefore, able to become nearly any cell in the body. Harnessing the power of such a cell and being able to grow these versatile cells in the lab is invaluable to medicine as these cells can be used for the regeneration or repair of damaged tissue and in drug testing to see how medication will impact heart, liver, or other cells within the body.

 

Through this research, Li and his lab have provided researchers with insight into the underlying mechanism controlling the reprogramming efficiency of iPSCs, allowing researchers to harness to power of iPSCs and develop them more efficiently. Specifically, he discovered that the expression level of the switch/sucrose nonfermentable component BAF60A, which is essentially a protein that can remodel the way DNA is packaged, helps to determine the efficiency of iPSC generation. He also noted that the BAF60A is regulated by STAT3, a transcription factor protein that plays a role in cell growth and death. Through this, Li discovered that the efficiency of iPSC generation is based on the expression level of these proteins and that the expression levels vary among pig breeds...

 

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