In an incredible milestone, scientists have for the first time created “universal” stem cells by using CRISPR gene-editing technology to produce pluripotent stem cells that can be transplanted into any patient without generating an immune system response.
“There are many issues with iPSC technology, but the biggest hurdles are quality control and reproducibility,” explains Tobias Deuse, lead author on the new study. “We don’t know what makes some cells amenable to reprogramming, but most scientists agree it can’t yet be reliably done. Most approaches to individualized iPSC therapies have been abandoned because of this.”
In order to create iPSCs currently, scientists have to embark upon a complicated and time-consuming process involving harvesting adult cells from every individual patient so as to avoid an immune response when the cells are subsequently transplanted back. The new research set out to develop a new process to create universal iPSCs that can be used by any patient.