A simple way to make human induced pluripotent stem cells without permanently modifying the genome is presented in a study published online this week in Nature Methods.
Reprogramming human cells to induced pluripotency holds great promise for research in development and disease and eventually for cell-based therapy. However, improved methods to make induced pluripotent stem cells, which ideally do not permanently modify the genome, are needed.
Joseph Wu and colleagues now report that simple minicircle vectors delivering the four required reprogramming factors can be used to reprogram two human cell types. Notably, they used minicircle-based delivery to reprogram adult human fat stem cells, which can be relatively easily obtained from humans and could provide a good source for generating patient-specific cell lines. The minicircle DNA is lost from the cells over time and does not integrate into the genome.