Researchers at the University of Helsinki have devised a new technique for returning human cells to a stem cell state that is faster and more reliable.

Pluripotent stem cells, which can differentiate into any cell in the body and can generate all tissues and organs, are the present focus of stem cell research. Recent research has used refined CRISPRa gene editing technology to speed up the cell reprogramming process, enabling the conversion of adult skin cells into pluripotent stem cells more reliable and accurate.

"CRISPR activation facilitates high-fidelity reprogramming into human pluripotent stem cells," according to the study, which was just published in Stem Cell Reports. Pluripotent stem cells are a key tool in biomedicine for the simulation of various diseases and the development of novel therapies.

A few years ago, a collaborative study conducted at the University of Helsinki successfully developed a CRISPRa (CRISPR-activated) gene editing technique, making it possible to transform adult skin cells into pluripotent stem cells. CRISPRa technology can be accomplished by activating the genes of cells without modifying their genome. This procedure generates stem cells that resemble early embryonic cells.

This reversal of differentiated cells as they develop into pluripotent stem cells or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs: ) is known as cellular reprogramming. iPSCs can differentiate into all cell and tissue types, which is why they are rapidly transforming and facilitating biomedical research.

With the optimized CRISPRa technology, reprogramming can be controlled to a much higher degree than before. This leads to highly reliable reprogramming of human cells into high-quality pluripotent stem cells.

Researcher Ras Trokovic pointed out, "the optimized CRISPRa technology accelerates the cell reprogramming process and significantly improves the accuracy and reliability of reprogramming."

Reprogramming with the previous technique also led to the formation of alternative cell types and abnormal iPS cells. This heterogeneity is reduced by the new, improved technique.

Trokovic noted, "using this optimization technique, almost all reprogrammed cells are high-quality iPS cells."

The research infrastructure supports further study and the discovery of practical applications, and the reliable production of high quality iPS cells can enable their increasingly efficient use in biomedical applications.

Trokovic added, "this technology makes it possible to produce pluripotent stem cells with a higher capacity than previous technologies."

The researchers believe that the cell programming technology ( they have developed will have many practical applications. iPSCs are a valuable tool in modeling neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and various eye diseases, as well as in developing corresponding therapies.

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