Peking University, Beijing, Nov. 11th, 2008: The Lab, led by Professor Deng Hongkui and Professor Ding Mingxiao, of the College of Life Sciences, published their paper in “Cell Stem Cell”, the authority journal in the field of stem cells on November 6, 2008, presenting their research on the inducement of human iPS cells. They not only established a stable and efficient human iPS cells inducing method, but also provided an important clue to study the molecular mechanism of the human cell re-programming. This is the first paper that China's scientific research institutions had published in the journal.
Since the advent of cloned sheep Dolly in 1997, the application of somatic cell cloning technology to solve a major human disease had become a dream of scientists. In 1998, American scientist Thomson had established human embryonic stem cell lines, which had the potential to differentiate to various types of cells in vitro, for the first time, and thus provided in theory the cell resource for the treatment of major diseases, such as diabetes, Parkinson and so on. In August 2006, the Japanese laboratory led by Shinya Yamanaka reported that the mouse cells could be transformed into induced multi-potential stem cells (iPS cells) by 4 genes (Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-Myc). As iPS cells and embryonic stem cells were very similar in nature, it solved technical problems and ethical controversy of the establishment of embryonic stem cells, greatly promoted the field of stem cell research and opened the door to the development of human regenerative medicine. In November 2007, Japanese group leaded by Shinya Yamanaka and American group led by Thomson and Yu Junying transformed adult skin fibroblast cells into iPS cells.
However, the efficiency of human iPS cells induction was too low to do the follow-up research work. The lab led by Professor Deng Hongkui and Professor Ding Mingxiao of College of Life Science, PKU screened a series of related genes on the basis of the induced iPS cell system. They found that introduction of the small interfering RNA against p53 gene and the UTF1 gene would cooperated to increase the efficiency of iPS cells inducement to nearly 100 times. Furthermore, they found that after the introduction of the small interfering RNA against p53 gene and UTF1 genes, highly efficient and stable human iPS cells could be induced without proto-oncogene c-Myc.