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The InduStem project is aimed at creating a 4-years training and transfer of knowledge program between a Hungarian SME, a Dutch University and a German Research Center in the field of stem cell research in mouse and humans, thus opening up the opportunity for a mutually beneficial long term partnership for medical research and applications between the industrial and academic partners.
The scientific and industrial aim of InduStem is to generate new comparative information on the generation, maintenance, characteristics of induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells in mouse and human and on their differentiation towards the cardiac lineage. The physiology of cardiomyocytes from iPS and Embryonic Stem (ES) cells will be compared and their ability to report disease phenotypes and drug responses faithfully will be investigated. In InduStem a gene cocktail consisting of Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and possibly c-Myc and Lin28, previously shown to be sufficient to reprogram differentiated fibroblast populations into pluripotent stem cells, will be cloned into transposable element gene vectors. We expect that this will allow the generation of iPS cells in a more predictable, controlled and safer way than previously. The transposon construct will include systems to generate iPS cells from fibroblast populations, and later to remove the transgenes when they are no longer required. This approach will reduce the risk associated with the random insertion (site and copy No.) of pluripotency factors and oncogens (c-Myc) into the genome of cells used for therapy. Therefore, technical focus will be put on generating novel European patents for reprogramming somatic cells to an embryonic state without the use of viral constructs, which have a perceived risk for future cell based therapy. In addition the novel technology uniquely envisions removal of the inducing sequences in the final cell product.
InduStem is expected to place the consortium members at the forefront of stem cell differentiation research in Europe by developing beyond the present state-of-the-art (IP protected) novel (virus – independent) methods for producing iPS cells from normal and mutant-carrying mice and humans) for comparison with ES cells and differentiation to cardiac cells. This will place InduStem in a competitive position to create banks of (cardiac) disease model cells quicker, more efficiently and in ethically less complicated ways than conventional gene targeting in hES cells or even existing iPS technology. This will provide further controlling of cell fate decisions at a molecular level and create a platform for future research on drugs to delay or even stop disease onset.