University of Helsinki Researchers Uncovered a Technique That Can Revert Mature Cells to Pluripotent Stem Cells

Pluripotent stem cells are the very building block of life. Some refer to them as the master cells because they can transform into any cell type in the body. The master cells form the 3 embryonic tissues in the body from which all organs were formed. Interestingly, pluripotent stem cells can self-renew, that is they can reproduce themselves infinitely. These unique abilities of pluripotent stem cells have sparked research in the past; research that aimed to find a way to harness this ability to treat illnesses that were based on depletion of certain cell types.

Read Also: Severe Lung Injuries Bring About Abnormal Stem Cell Repair UCSF Study Shows

Stem Cells

Stem Cells

Thankfully, researchers engineered what we know today as induced pluripotent stem cells using several transcription factors and molecules. Because the iPSCs share the same abilities as embryonic stem cells they can take over their function.

A team of scientists at the University of Helsinki recently uncovered a technique that can revert the mature cells to pluripotent stem cells much more reliable and quicker.

Optimized CRISPR activator

So far, the induced pluripotent stem cells have revolutionized many aspects of medicines ranging from studies of the molecular basis of illnesses, designing patient-specific cells for transplant to shore up the depletion of cells, to averting organ rejection that is mediated by the immune system. Additionally, they have been employed in gene modeling and therapy, evaluation of toxicity of different hazardous substances and drugs, and regenerative medicine and experiments on drugs.

Read Also: Severe Lung Injuries Bring About Abnormal Stem Cell Repair UCSF Study Shows

A group of scientists found a way to optimize the technology used. Their discovery was rooted in research done in the same university, the research resulted in successful gene-editing with the aid of a CRISPR activator. In other words, the technology could transform mature skin cells to stem cells.

The CRISPR activator is unique in that it can activate the genes without necessarily making little changes in the genomes. The scientists dubbed this reverting of mature cells back to pluripotent stem cells stages ‘cellular reprogramming’. This technique yielded stems cells that were quite similar to early embryonic cells.

In efforts to better the outcomes of the CRISPR activator, the research carried out studies and afterward found a way to optimize the CRISPR activator. This optimized version will give the scientist leeway to control reprogramming better than before. As such, reproducing superior pluripotent stem cells from the high-graded reprogramming tech.

Ras Trokovic, one of the researchers, says that this optimized CRISPR activator has sped up the process involved in reprogramming cells and has significantly boosted the precision and quality of reprogramming.

Read Also: Oocytes Obtained From Stem Cells Could Be Used to Mass Produce Cytoplasm

Furthermore, the earlier techniques of reprogramming had some pitfalls like occasionally spawning abnormal pluripotent cells and the formation of other cell types. The optimized version has reduced the possibility of these to next to nothing.

Trokovic collaborates this when he said, “The technique makes it possible to produce pluripotent stem cells at a higher capacity than previous techniques”

However, work remains to be done to hone this technique to make it more applicable in different areas of biomedical treatment. In time, this optimized CRISPR activator can turn to magical pills for diseases like diabetes mellitus, neurodegenerative illnesses, ocular disease, and the host of them.

Professor Timo Otonkoski points out that studies of the genome have become commonplace in Finland and the biobank is facilitating these researches by providing induced pluripotent stem cells for the studies.

Clinical significance

The optimized CRISPR activator is a cutting-edge technology that can offer the glimmer of hope to those who ail neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes mellitus, nerve damage amongst other biomedical applications. It gets better! The technology beats the older version in efficiency and capacity as such it will get the job done much better and faster.

Read Also: University of Wisconsin Researchers Use Stem Cells to Treat Parkinson’s


Pluripotent stem cells have been at the heart of major daring medicine innovative therapy. This research although at its early stages can open a new chapter in the pursuit to eradicate various ailments.


CRISPR activation enables high-fidelity reprogramming into human pluripotent stem cells



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