Andras Nagy talks with
ScienceWatch.com and answers a few questions about
this month's New Hot Paper in the field of
Article Title: piggyBac transposition reprograms
fibroblasts to induced pluripotent
Authors: Woltjen, K;Michael, IP;Mohseni, P;Desai,
R;Mileikovsky, M;Hamalainen, R;Cowling, R;Wang, W;Liu,
PT;Gertsenstein, M;Kaji, K;Sung, HK;Nagy,
Journal: NATURE, Volume: 458, Issue: 7239, Page: 766-U106,
Year: APR 9 2009
* Mt Sinai Hosp, Samuel Lunenfeld Res Inst, 600 Univ Ave,
Toronto, ON M5G 1X5, Canada.
* Mt Sinai Hosp, Samuel Lunenfeld Res Inst, Toronto, ON M5G
1X5, Canada. (addresses have been
Why do you think your paper is highly
The era of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell has empowered the stem cell
research field on a scale never before seen. A vast number of laboratories
all over the globe are now feverishly working toward the future application
of these cells to treat a range of devastating conditions. Our paper has
contributed to moving iPS cells closer to clinical application.
Does it describe a new discovery, methodology, or
synthesis of knowledge?
"...today, diabetes affects 230 million people around
the world. The cost is 300 billion USD each year. These
numbers are expected to increase by 50% over the next 20
The technique to produce iPS cells was first discovered in
Shinya Yamanaka's laboratory in Japan. However, his
method was not suitable for actual human therapies, as it used viruses
to deliver the reprogramming factors needed to make iPS cells. Our
discovery overcame this hurdle by using removable transposons as a
Would you summarize the significance of your paper
in layman's terms?
Our paper builds on the findings made in Dr. Yamanaka's laboratory that
skin cells can be turned into stem cells (induced Pluripotent Stem or iPS
cells). IPS cells can then, in turn, be directed to differentiate into any
cell type found in the human body. The hope is that, in the future, these
cells can be used to treat diseases where cell damage has occurred by
transplantation of the patient's own iPS-derived cells.
How did you become involved in this research, and
were there any problems along the way?
My laboratory has a long history in the field of developmental biology,
genetics, and stem cell research. We were the first and, until now, the
only laboratory to establish new lines of human embryonic stem cells in
Canada. It is not surprising that we quickly turned our interest toward iPS
cells when these were discovered.
Where do you see your research leading in the
My laboratory is a basic science lab. Our current findings published in
this paper will aid us tremendously as we are trying to understand the
biological processes behind somatic cell reprogramming. These insights will
be crucial for developing efficient and safe cell-based therapies in the
Do you foresee any social or political implications for your
The potential social and political implications of our research may be
enormous. There is still a long way to go until we arrive at the bedside of
patients, but we now have solid ground to stand on in order to find real
cures for a number of devastating conditions that are currently not
possible to alleviate.
For example, today, diabetes affects 230 million people around the world.
The cost is 300 billion USD each year. These numbers are expected to
increase by 50% over the next 20 years.
Andras Nagy, Ph.D.
Mount Sinai Hospital
Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute
Toronto, ON, Canada Web |