Lead researcher Kun Zhang, an assistant bioengineering professor in the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and his team at UC San Diego have developed a low cost accurate DNA methylation technique for researchers, that would be able to quantitatively analyze regenerative medicine as well as other diseases digitally using padlock probs.
The break through had been described in a in Nature Biotechnology titled “Targeted bisulfite sequencing reveals changes in DNA methylation associated with nuclear reprogramming.”
DNA methylation is a type of chemical modification of DNA that can be inherited and subsequently removed without changing the original DNA sequence.
Researchers used their novel method to study nuclear reprogramming of differentiated adult human cells into pluripotent stem cells.
Zhang and his team are using this new method to compare the use of artificial and natural stem cells.
This method will help determine whether artificial stem cells can 100 percent mimic natural stem cells. This method helps you determine if, by doing this trick, you can generate a stem cell similar to a natural stem cell. If it is not similar there may be some risk.
A key to the team’s discovery was the use of programmable DNA chips made with a proprietary Ink-jet printing method by Agilent Technology.
Researchers believe that this is a generic method for the analysis of epigenome, the application to induced pluripotent stem cells is one example to demonstrate the utility of this method. The method would be widely applicable to other area of biomedical sciences, such as the study of cancers or Alzheimer’s disease.
Zhang and his team is looking forward to turn the clock forward and differentiate stem cells into multiple tissue and see how the memory of the cells changes.
They also wanted to compare the artificial stem cells with the natural stem cells to see whether the differentiation can work exactly the same efficiency on the artificial stem cells as they do on the natural stem cells.