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Patent Awarded for Stem Cell Generation Process

Kiminobu Sugaya (Univ. of Central Florida)

Kiminobu Sugaya (Univ. of Central Florida)

A process that enables a single gene to generate millions of therapeutic stem cells from ordinary human cells has received a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent — number 8,080,420 — was awarded to medical professor Kiminobu Sugaya and colleagues at University of Central Florida in Orlando, and assigned to that institution.

Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) have the potential to create therapies for challenging and widespread diseases and conditions. Ethical, regulatory, and financial obstacles, however, have slowed the development of therapies from hESCs, which has encouraged a search for alternative sources of stem cells.

Sugaya’s process, called induced pluripotent stem cell technology, is derived from a single Nanog gene. This gene is a regulator involved in inner cell mass and embryonic stem cell proliferation and self-renewal.

In Sugaya’s process, the Nanog gene makes it possible to generate stems cells that transform ordinary cells from a human’s own body into cells needed for self-repair. The induced pluripotent stem cell technology thus can take cells from one part of the body and revert them back to an embryonic state, enabling them to differentiate into  any cell type the body needs for therapy.

Progenicyte, a biotechnology company founded in 2008 by Sugaya, has in-licensed induced pluripotent stem cell technology from the university to develop therapeutic applications.

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