Team boosts development of healthy stem cells

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Team boosts development of healthy stem cells

A Korean research team has succeeded in boosting the success rate of producing embryonic stem cells.

The team from CHA University Stem Cell Institute has duplicated an adult body cell and integrated it with eggs, the team said on Thursday.

The research team first announced last year that it created a healthy embryonic stem cell line out of regular adult cell, but it showed a success rate of only 1 to 2 percent.

Such a low success rate held back scientists from developing actual cell treatment drugs for patients of incurable or chronic diseases.

Now, the team has improved the chance of success up to 7 percent, by determining that a genetic enzyme was the biggest culprit preventing the creation of healthy stem cells. Stem cell lines can now be created in one egg out of 15 tryouts.

The CHA research team figured that activities of the enzyme called the histone metyltransferase hindered the somatic cell-based embryonic stem cell from forming a stem cell line, after joint research with Harvard University Medical School Professor Yi Zhang and professor Chung Young-gie of Sung Kwang Medical Foundation in Los Angeles. The joint research team also developed an RNA protein that slows down the enzyme.

The experiment result will be published in the academic journal Cell Stem Cell on Friday.

“More enhanced technology this time will offer much wider access to patients, by making stem cell creation easier with lower quality eggs - even those leftover eggs after in vitro procedures,” said Lee Dong-ryul, co-author of the new paper and head of the CHA research team. “If the technology gets implemented … patients will be the largest beneficiary as this biomedicine can treat diseases without immunosuppressant drugs.”

The advanced technology is expected to be commercialized in the next two to three years.

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