The progress made in stem cell biology over the past decade has opened up many new opportunities for basic and translational scientists worldwide. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are particularly useful because scientists can differentiate them into many specialized cell types to use for research or regenerative medicine applications (e.g., cell and gene therapy).
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 preclinical and clinical use.
Take a virtual tour of the NCATS Stem Cell Translation Laboratory.
To establish and move stem cell technologies forward through a more centralized effort, NIH has launched the Stem Cell Translation Laboratory (SCTL) within NCATS. Initially part of the NIH Common Fund's Regenerative Medicine Program, the goal of the SCTL is to bring iPSC technology closer to clinical applications and drug development. Through the SCTL, NCATS provides researchers across various disciplines and organizations access to innovative protocols and resources to advance the translation of regenerative medicine applications. Through a multidisciplinary collaborative team approach, NCATS’ SCTL scientists aim to:
- Establish quality control (QC) standards to define pluripotency and differentiated cell types.
- Develop methods to assess heterogeneity and characterize iPSC-derived cells using multi-omics technologies.
- Develop standardized methods to produce mature and functional cells meeting the QC standards above.
- Discover, validate and disseminate small molecule reagents to replace expensive recombinant proteins, xenogeneic material and undefined media components in cell differentiation protocols.
Join the SCTL
The SCTL is a new state-of-the-art research facility within NCATS’ Division of Preclinical Innovation dedicated to addressing the scientific and technological challenges in the iPSC field. Learn more about current job opportunities at the SCTL.