International Stem Cell Corporation (ISCO:OTCQB), a biotechnology company developing novel stem cell-based therapies, announced the development of a new method for the derivation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) that utilizes a novel protein-based reprogramming process. The Company believes that the new method is a safer and more efficient alternative to older iPS reprogramming techniques, and represents a step forward in the ability to use iPS clinically.
iPS cells are made by genetically reprogramming mature stem cells, usually taken from the skin, and can be used to create new cells of a different type. The original reprogramming methods, using viruses to modify the cells genes, risks the inclusion of genetic material from the virus into the cells. Additionally, these viral methods are inefficient and can only produce very limited quantities of cells.
ISCO has developed a new method using specific proteins called transducible transcription factors (TTF) as the modifying agents. The use of TTFs not only avoids the need for viruses, but also enhances the efficiency of the reprogramming process. ISCO has now shown that this TTF-iPS technology can produce stable stem cells, is at least ten times more efficient than older methods, and avoids the risks associated with virus-based processes. In addition, the TTFs are naturally eliminated when no longer required, a characteristic that further improves safety. ISCO is currently working towards shortening the cell reprogramming step from roughly six weeks to as little as one week.
ISCO is focused on the therapeutic applications of human parthenogenetic stem cells (hpSCs) and the development and commercialization of cell-based research and cosmetic products. The Company's proprietary technology is based on the creation of stem cells through parthenogenesis, a form of asexual reproduction that involves the stimulation of a human oocyte (egg) to start the cell division process without actual fertilization. Since the eggs are not fertilized, no viable human embryo is created nor destroyed for the generation of ISCO’s hpSC lines. The Company believes that these therapeutic stem cells avoid the safety, economic, and ethical concerns inherent with existing stem cell technologies.
ISCO has focused its therapeutic efforts in three markets where cell therapy has been clinically proven, but where there is a shortage of safe cells or tissue: (1) Parkinson’s disease (PD); (2) inherited metabolic liver diseases; and (3) corneal blindness. ISCO is also developing a stem cell bank, UniStemCell™, and produces and markets specialized cells and growth media for therapeutic research through its subsidiary Lifeline Cell Technology, and stem cell-based skin care products through its subsidiary Lifeline Skin Care.
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