A team of biomedical engineers at Duke University has created a new way to turn stem cells into a desired cell type by mastering the language of gene regulatory networks.
Programming stem cells into other cell types is not a new idea. Several methods already exist, but the results have left something to be desired. Often, programmed stem cells do not mature correctly when cultured in the lab, so researchers seeking adult neuron cells for an experiment might end up with embryonic neurons, which won’t be able to model late-onset psychiatric and neurodegenerative conditions.
“The cells might seem right at first glance,” said Josh Black, the Duke Ph.D. student who led the work in Charles Gersbach’s lab, “but they are often missing some of the key properties you want in those cells.”
Using CRISP gene editing, the lab led by Gersbach, The Rooney Family Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and