Bathing somatic cells in acid can reprogram them to induced pluripotent stem cells, a new study found. With systematically collected and fully available data, Lee and his colleagues report that carefully replicating the original acid-treatment method does not induce pluripotency in two types of mouse somatic cells, including those used in the original study.
iPS cells have the unique ability to give rise to most other cell types, and have potentially wide therapeutic applications. This characteristic can be triggered in other cells by transforming them into iPS cells, which further increases the potential for stem cell therapies. Earlier this year, a group from Japan reported a greatly simplified procedure for producing iPS cells by bathing somatic cells in an acid bath.
To verify these claims, Kenneth Lee set out to replicate the work in his own lab, and documented his experiments online in the process, leading to lively online discussions between stem cell scientists who provided feedback and commentary along the way. Using both white blood cells isolated from the spleen of neonatal mice - the same cells used in the original study - and lung fibroblasts, Lee was unable to replicate the original findings, and has now published the full results of his study in F1000Research.