Oligodendrocyte progenitor cell therapy

    Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) are precursor cells for oligodendrocytes (OLs). Oligodendrocytes produce myelin sheath that provides support and electrical insulation for axons, enabling fast and high fidelity transmission without a need for an increase in axonal diameter.

    The loss or lack of OPCs, and consequent lack of differentiated oligodendrocytes, is associated with a loss of myelination, which is the underlying cause for a variety of neurological diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS), leukodystrophies, spinal cord injury, etc. Therefore, OPCs offer great promise for all kinds of demyelination diseases, most of which is currently non-curable.

     In the past two years, CIB scientists have collaborated with researchers at Washington University, USA, and developed a novel technology that can directly convert fibroblasts into OPCs, named iOPCs. This technology uses protein kinase inhibitors combined specialized culture media to transdifferentiate fibroblasts into OPCs and OLs. 

The major advantages of CIB iOPC technology include: 

    1) Rapid process for direct differentiation of fibroblasts into OPCs,the whole process only takes 4 – 6 weeks, and thus saves time and resources for clinical applications; 

    2) iOPC technology is suitable for production of large number of OPCs from fibroblasts; 

    3) iOPC can come from patient’s own cells and thus avoid immunorejection problem; 

    4) Compared to iPSC and ESC, iOPC does not have the ability to form tumor cells and therefore, it is safe for clinical application. 

Currently, we are in the process of optimizing our existing protocol to make it more robust and readily applicable to transdifferentiating fibroblasts from different donors.


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