Human stem cells could be getting an overhaul. This is the first time ever in history of gene editing that researchers have used low-dose irradiation for repairing damaged cells of patients. This new gene editing technique has been developed by scientists representing the Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Regenerative Medicine Institute.
The study leading to creation of the method was published in the widely read journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine. Researchers are claiming that this new technique is ten times more powerful than all other methods in use currently.
Clive Svendsen, the study’s co-senior author and the institute’s director, said that this new method will allow scientists to edit stem cells far more efficiently and will thereby increase the speed at which discoveries in this field take place.
It is believed that the editing technique involving irradiation will allow scientists to gather more information on diseases like Huntington’s disease, muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy.
For those who don’t know: scientists use gene editing for correcting irregular mutations and curing the health disorder in the petri-dish theoretically. In addition, scientists also use gene editing for creating disease mutations in healthy cells; they do so for modeling different human disease.
This new gene editing method allows the research team at Cedars–Sinai to more efficiently slot in reporter genes that start glowing when a stem cell develops into a particular cell of the patient’s body. For instance, stem cells turn green when they get converted into heart cells and become red when they turn into neurons.
Vaithilingaraja Arumugaswami, the director of Cedars-Sinai’s Pancreas & Liver Program and another co-senior author of the study, said the combination of the correct gene copy and low-dose irradiation will accelerate scientists’ ability of modeling human diseases using stem cells derived from patients suffering from a range of diseases.
The past few years have witnessed rapid expansion in the field of producing human disease in petri-dish by means of stem cells. This work gives scientists the chance of testing new drugs on human cells carrying genes responsible for causing diseases.
According to Svendsen, the new gene editing technique used by them will help scientists establish much more accurate disease models and thereby speed up the overall discovery process.