It is probably safe to say that after the third peer reviewed publication reporting the use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) to produce embryonic stem cells (NT-ESCs) the method has the promise to aid scientists in the study of disease in the coming years 1-3. It is well established that iPSC derived stem cells and ESCs differ in several key areas, including epigenesis and differentiation. These differences are considered to be partially due to the reprogramming mechanisms and methods used to induce reprogramming. Other evidence points to the epigenetic memory of the somatic cells used during reprogramming which can lead to variability in the extent of reversion to an epigenetic signature similar to ESCs.
The development of methods to produce NT-ESCs has sparked considerable interest regarding how stem cells derived by this method compare to iPSCs and the "gold standard" ESCs. A recent publication indicates that NT-ESCs are more closely related to ESCs than iPSCs using several methods such as DNA methylation and transcriptome profiles4. While NT-ESCs are more closely identifiable with ESCs, more work is needed to provide functional comparisons between the various stem cell types. The findings from future lines of investigation are likely to play a large part in selection of the appropriate method to generate stem cells for therapeutic use. It may be that each method will provide stem cells amenable to a specific therapeutic application where another type may fail.
1Chung, YG. et al. Cell Stem Cell 14(6), 777-780 (2014)
2Tachibana, M. et al. Cell 153, 1228–1238 (2013)
3Yamada, M. et al. Nature 510, 533-536 (2014)
4Ma, H. et al. Nature 511, 177-183 (2014)
By: BioTek Instruments, Peter J. Brescia Jr., MSc, MBA