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Improved Vectors For Reprogramming Peripheral Blood Cells

Dec 31, 2013 2:00:16 AM / by Maria

Reprogramming peripheral blood cells is performed via introduction of key factors by viral vectors.  New vectors make this process safer for use in humans.  

Peripheral blood cells Peripheral blood cells can be converted into iPSCs that can be used to develop new therapies.
Image credit: Nature Protocols 7, 718–728 (2012) doi:10.1038/nprot.2012.015

Unfortunately there are still many diseases and medical complications with very few or poor treatment options that would greatly benefit from regenerative medicine. However, differentiating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into valuable clinical cells provides hope for development of patient-specific cells, tissues, or organs. 

Previously, we discussed why many researchers are using peripheral blood cells as the somatic cells to create iPSCs.  In Part II of this series, key factors and methods for generating iPSCs were discussed. Although effective, using viral vectors to generate iPSCs raises a few safety concerns:

  • Integrating viral DNA can lead to insertional mutagenesis
  • Tumors may appear if reprogramming factors are reactivated again
  • Continued expression of the reprogramming factors may impede guided differentiation.

Fortunately, blood-derived integration-free iPSCs can be generated with well-established methods such as using the Senai virus vector (SeV) or episomal vector (EV). Although EV is not perfect, it seems to be more desirable because it is tenfold more efficient in reprogramming peripheral blood cells and production of EV plasmids is much less difficult and expensive than SeV vectors. 

iPSCs can be generated from peripheral blood cells and differentiated into important cell types such as hepatocytes, cardiomyocytes, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), and hematopoietic cells. Recent studies show significant progress in the difficult process of differentiating iPSCs into hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which requires critical, specific transcription factors. Other strategies include direct reprogramming or diverting cells in intermediate stages of reprogramming into iPSCs to differentiate or transdifferentiate into cells of interest by culturing them in favorable conditions. Many if not all of these approaches are used now or may be used in the future with peripheral blood cells.

Most of the previously published cellular reprogramming studies used fibroblasts but, as discussed in Part I of this series, new results suggest that using peripheral blood cells may be more advantageous. The potential for these cells in much-needed cellular therapy and regenerative medicine applications is certainly worth the effort!


Zhang, Xiao-Bing. Cellular Reprogramming of Human Peripheral Blood Cells. Genomics, Proteomics & Bioinformatics 11.5 (2013): 264-274.

Topics: cellular reprogramming, iPSCs, Stem Cells, Uncategorized, Basic Research


Written by Maria

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