Regenerative medicine deals with the 'process of replacing, engineering or regenerating human cells, tissues or organs to restore or establish normal function'. Regenerative medicine includes the possibility of growing tissues and organs in the laboratory and implanting them when the body cannot repair itself. Some of the biomedical approaches within the field of regenerative medicine may involve the use of stem cells.
In the research arena we can work with different kind of stem cells, including embryonic stem cells (ESs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The stem cells with the least ethical issues and with the greatest potential are iPSCs. They can be generated directly from adult cells. The iPSC technology was pioneered by Dr Yamanaka’s (Kyoto, Japan), who showed that the use of 4 transcription factors could convert adult cells into pluripotent stem cells.
Pluripotent stem cells hold promise in the field of regenerative medicine, but also in studying genetic disease, because they can propagate indefinitely, as well as give rise to every other cell type in the body (such as vascular, neurons, heart, pancreatic, and liver cells).
The CRISPR/Cas system is a vital tool for use within stem cell research. The CRISPR/Cas system will enable unique opportunities in cell therapies in order to study genetic disease and to develop novel patient specific therapeutics.
News: Stem Cell Research University Maastricht (SCRUM)
Initiated by CARIM, in collaboration with FHML, SCRUM is the latest core facility of FHML that will provide service for the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). In this new core facility, iPSC cells provide a solution for research with cells from hard-to-reach tissues such as heart, vascular tissue or brain tissue. These iPSC have the potential to grow into different types of somatic cells.
This state-of-the-art technology will be applied within CARIM to study genetic disorders of heart and vessels, with the ultimate goal to develop new insights and novel therapeutics for cardiovascular disease. In addition, these iPSC derived cells provide an endless supply of cells from the same genetic origin, that can be used for testing pharmacological (drugs) and genetic (CRISPR/Cas9) therapeutic interventions. Further, research within SCRUM aims on possible therapeutic applications of these stem cells for regenerating tissues. In addition to research, SCRUM aims to offer training courses and seminars to stimulate iPSC research culture within Maastricht.
Interdisciplinary platforms will be developed within SCRUM in which clinical science and stem cell research will be connected. Within SCRUM, we want to stimulate iPSC research for both fundamental and translational applications between CARIM and HVC.