The progress made in stem cell biology over the past decade has opened up many new possibilities for basic and translational scientists worldwide. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are particularly useful because scientists can differentiate them into many cell types to use for research or therapies.
Scientists produce iPSCs by reprogramming adult cells (e.g., skin cells, blood cells) to an embryonic stem cell-like state, where they have the potential to become any cell type of the human body. iPSC-based therapies are ideal because they use a patient’s own cells, preventing potential complications such as rejection by the immune system. In addition, scientists can use iPSCs to produce the large amounts of relevant cells (e.g., nerve cells, liver cells) needed for disease research, tissue engineering, toxicology and regenerative medicine. Major limitations that currently impede the application of iPSCs include the lack of highly reproducible and well-defined procedures required to generate, characterize and differentiate patient-specific iPSCs safely for pre-clinical and clinical use.
To establish and move stem cell technologies forward through a more centralized effort, NIH has launched the Stem Cell Translation Laboratory (SCTL) within NCATS. Part of the NIH Common Fund’s Regenerative Medicine Program, the goal of the SCTL is to bring iPSC technology closer to clinical application, drug discovery and regenerative medicine. Through the SCTL, NCATS will provide researchers across various disciplines and organizations with the ability to establish collaborations to advance the translation of regenerative medicine applications. Through a multidisciplinary collaborative team approach, NCATS’ SCTL scientists aim to:
- Establish detailed quality control (QC) standards to define pluripotency and differentiated cell types.
- Develop methods to assess variations in cultured cells derived from iPSCs.
- Develop standard methods to produce mature cells meeting the QC standards above.
- Discover, validate and disseminate small molecule reagents to replace expensive recombinant proteins, xenogenic material and undefined media components in cell differentiation protocols.
Work with SCTL
The SCTL is a new state-of-the-art research facility within NCATS’ Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation dedicated to addressing the scientific and technological challenges in the iPSC field. SCTL staff members are actively looking for scientific investigators from the NIH intramural and extramural communities, as well as those from the biotech and pharmaceutical industry, to collaborate on stem cell projects. Learn more about how to work with our SCTL staff.