Episode 132      31 min 56 sec
Adult stem cells and their potential in treating heritable diseases

Cell biologist Dr Mirella Dottori and neuroscientist Dr Alice Pébay discuss how their work with induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, aka adult stem cells, may hold the key to a cure for Friedreich's ataxia and other genetically transmitted diseases. They also explain how adult stem cells differ from embryonic stem cells. With science host Dr Shane Huntington.

"When people have looked at all of the genes that are expressed in embryonic stem cells and compared that with IPS cells it is not 100% perfect match. Because obviously we don’t know everything." -- Dr Mirella Dottori




           



Dr Mirella Dottori
Dr Mirella Dottori

Dr Mirella Dottori completed her PhD at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, University of Melbourne and her postdoctoral studies at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, USA. Both her PhD and postdoctoral studies were within the field of developmental neuroscience. She then returned to Australia as a NHMRC Howard Florey Fellow where she joined Professor Martin Pera’s group at Monash University working on human embryonic stem cells. In 2007, Dr Dottori established Stem Cell at the Centre for Neuroscience, University of Melbourne. The major focus of her research is to use human pluripotent stem cells to develop treatments for neurodegenerative disorders, in particular Friedreich Ataxia, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Motor Neuron Disease.

Dr Alice Pébay
Dr Alice Pébay

Dr Alice Pébay obtained her PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Paris in 2001. For her postdoctoral training, she joined Prof. Martin Pera at Monash University in the first Australian research institute to undertake research on human embryonic stem cells. In 2007, Alice joined the University of Melbourne to establish and co-head the “Stem Cell Lab” and joined the O’Brien Institute in 2010. A major interest of Alice’s research is the genetic disease Friedreich's Ataxia and she is currently co-heading various projects aiming at studying induced pluripotent stem cells derived from Friedreich's Ataxia individuals.

Credits

Host: Shane Huntington
Producers: Kelvin Param, Eric van Bemmel
Audio Engineer: Gavin Nebauer
Episode Research: Dyani Lewis
Voiceover: Nerissa Hannink
Series Creators: Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param

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Adult stem cells and their potential in treating heritable diseases

VOICEOVER
Welcome to Up Close, the research, opinion and analysis podcast from the University of Melbourne, Australia.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
I’m Shane Huntington, thanks for joining us. In this episode, we will be discussing stem cells. And in particular, what are called induced pluripotent stem cells. Or, IPS cells. Because they are typically derived from adult somatic cells, IPS cells avoid some of the ethical controversies that surround the use of embryonic stem cells. To hear more about IPS cells, how they contrast with embryonic stem cells, and the promise they bring to treatment of heritable diseases, we are joined by Dr Mirella Dottori, head of the Stem Cell Laboratory within the Centre for Neuroscience, here at The University of Melbourne and Dr Alice Pébay, Senior Scientist and head of the Cardiac Differentiation Program of the Stem Cell Medicine Group at the O’Brien Institute. Welcome to Up Close, Mirella and Alice.

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Thank you.

ALICE PEBAY
Good morning.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Alice, let me start with you, for those of our listeners who are not aware, what is a stem cell? And whereabouts do we find these in the body?

ALICE PEBAY
So, there are different types of stem cells in fact. We have to differentiate between what is called an embryonic stem cell and an adult stem cell. Let’s start with embryonic stem cells. As the name suggests, an embryonic stem cell is a cell that comes from the embryo. It is called a stem cell because it means that it is cell that is not really becoming anything yet. It has potency to become everything. And embryonic stem cells come from very early stages of an embryo. While an adult stem cell is a cell that is found in niches within our body, within an adult body or a child's body.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
What role do these stem cells actually play? I mean, they obviously have a very specific function in the body, what is that role?

ALICE PEBAY
So, an embryonic stem cell will of course have a fundamental role, which is to make an individual. Without an embryonic stem cells we wouldn’t have a body. An individual. They are here to make very on in development the cells that will create the skin, the muscles, the different organs, the nervous system, all of the organs of our body. So, if we go back to adult stem cells in the body, these adult stem cells have the potential to differentiate into specific cell types. They have less potential than embryonic stem cells. Which means they are probably in the body to generate cells of a specific part of the body. For instance, bone marrow stem cells will give rise to blood cells throughout our life basically.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
So, embryonic stem cells, can become essentially, any cell, whereas the adult stem cells have a very specific function. Is that right?

ALICE PEBAY
Yes. That’s a good generalisation.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
When we talk about embryonic stem cells, can these cells be used in anyone’s body from a particular source or does it have to be some sort of inherited link between the cells, does it have to be a family member, can you just take embryonic stem cells and use them to help any person?

ALICE PEBAY
So, you wouldn’t take embryonic stem cells and plant them into someone. First of all because we know that embryonic stem cells because they can become basically everything can also become cancer. We don’t know how to control the differentiation, especially in a body. If you inject stem cells you take a major risk, creating a new disease in your body. The second thing is rejection. If you put anything coming from another individual into your own body you will take the risk of having your body rejecting it. So, you wouldn’t do that.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Mirella, let’s just talk for a moment, about the controversy that has surrounded the use of these cell types, in particular the embryonic cell types. What is the basis of this controversy?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
The basis is that embryonic stem cells are derived from a blastocyst. So, at the point of fertilisation, you have an egg and a sperm, they come together to form a zygote and then the zygote keeps dividing. And after four, five days, it becomes what we call a blastocyst. So, that blastocyst is that time point in nature normally it is travelling down, like the fallopian tubes, it is at the time point where it actually implants into the uterus. So, the laws basically throughout the world is that most embryonic stem cells need to be derived from a blastocyst, but the blastocyst was generated for the purpose of in vitro fertilization. So, couples that have undergone IVF and have all these different embryos, some of which they immediately implant, if they don’t want to immediately implant them they can freeze them down. After a certain number of years, they have a choice to make. Either destroy the embryos or implant them. And now there is a third option, they can donate these embryos into research. And if they donate them, one of the areas of research is to derive embryonic stem cells. So, the controversy that surrounds it is that this embryo has potential to give rise to a new individual. So, in actual fact, many people see it as if you are destroying life in order to save other lives.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Some of our listeners will remember we covered some of the issues around stem cells in Episode Four, but, one of the questions I have for you now, several years later is, do you believe that the controversy around embryonic stem cells has helped to drive these other areas of stem cell research, like the one you are focused on?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Absolutely. It is a very, very tricky, question to answer, this whole controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells. You know, when does life begin? Are we taking away a life? And that is based upon peoples’ beliefs and understandings and there is no right or wrong about that. And obviously some people feel extremely strongly about this. Understandably and rightly so. Perhaps that is one of the main driving forces, from pure scientific research point of view. That people thinking, ‘okay, we know that the potential of using embryonic stem cells is extremely,  extremely valuable, because they have the potential to become all cell types. And hence we now have a source of cells that we can derive them into different cell types for replacement therapy and so forth.’ So, what is an alternative way to go about this? Now, one of the alternative ways was through cloning – somatic cell nuclear transfers. And for many, many years people have been trying to go down that path. However, for humans, this is extremely inefficient. People have managed to clone to a certain point in the dish, but they haven’t been able to propagate it. I would just like to point out that, in cloning, there is therapeutic cloning and reproductive cloning. With therapeutic cloning it is just for the purpose of deriving cell types and reproductive cloning which is against the law, internationally, would be to implant that clone into another to derive another individual. Now, because of that inefficiency, again, people have had to think about a third option, and for a number of years, people have been looking at what are the essential genes or factors that make an embryonic stem cell an embryonic stem cell that is pluripotent that it can become any cell type. And amazingly, some scientists from Japan and also in the US, but the Japanese scientists driven by Yamanaka, was one of the leaders, one of the first groups, that were able to narrow it down to four, five factors, fundamentally. That were like the key driving genes that make an embryonic stem cell, its pluripotent characteristics. From there we were able to derive these induced pluripotent stem cells.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Mirella, we often hear about the value of cord blood these days and in fact, many parents are encouraged by private companies, by some hospitals to store their blood, sometimes at high costs, sometimes by donating their blood freely, what is the sort of purpose of this? What is the value in cord blood, with regards to stem cells?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Cord blood in many ways has similar characteristics to bone marrow stem cells, essentially, like an adult stem cell in that they can definitely give rise to some lineages for example, some blood cell types, even perhaps some bone fat and so forth. Now, there’s some school of thought out there, or some researchers that also claim that cord blood can also give rise to all cell types of the body. Even nerves or muscle and so forth. For that reason many people have thought, ‘okay, cord blood might be another cell type that might be equivalent in certain ways to an embryonic stem cell. So, there has been a lot of trials done where people have even transplanted cord blood and have seen some sort of improvement. But one thing that many people have noticed with cord blood stem cells is that they release a lot of supportive factors, trophic support. So part of their regenerative potential is not that they are replacing diseased cells, it is more that they are providing support or factors to promote the body to regenerate and replace its own cells. And, I think it is more that mechanism which is quite therapeutic in their use rather than in a cell replacement. Now, the idea of storing cord blood, I think it is a tricky one. A lot of my friends and family ask me that advice. Simply because we don’t know where the research is going. So, in some ways, you could see the value of having your own cells as close as possible stored for 30-40 years down the track. So, to say, if you get a leukaemia, if you get some sort of condition, you have got the cells there as a source. But, now again with the technology of IPS cells where we can derive potentially cells from the patient and maybe you know such things as storing cord blood isn’t as necessary as people thought. But, why not store everything? So, it is up to the individual. I think it is a tricky thing to answer. And I can understand both ways.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
This is Up Close, coming to you from The University of Melbourne, Australia. I’m Shane Huntington and our guests today are Dr Mirella Dottori and Dr Alice Pébay and we are talking about stem cells.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Alice, one of the notable aspects of embryonic stem cells is that they are pluripotent, whereas adult stem cells are often referred to as multipotent. Can you give us an idea of what the difference is here? What these two terms mean? And what gives rise to the various options that these cells give us?

ALICE PEBAY
I think it a human construct, really, isn’t it? We need to categorise everything. We’ve got multi, pluri, totipotent. Basically, what it means is that if we take an embryonic stem cell, the potential of differentiations are almost for all cells. That is why it is called pluripotent. If you take an adult stem cell it will have less differentiation potential which is why it is called a multipotent stem cell. For instance, if I take a neuronal stem cell, this neuronal stem cell will be able to differentiate into cells of the nervous system. Such as astrocytes or macroglial cells in general. And neurons. If I take an embryonic stem cell I will be able to differentiate this cell into a different type of cell. Cardiomyocytes, neurons, skin cells. Much more potential.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Now, in your work, you start off with an adult skin cell. And you actually induce it to become a required cell type to do this work. Tell us a bit about what is happening there.

ALICE PEBAY
So, what we did basically was following the research that was done in America and Japan which allowed reprogramming of an adult cells, skin cell, into a cell that resembled an embryonic stem cell. For this, we basically modified the expression of a few genes in skin cells that we obtained from biopsy, waited long enough and eventually arrived to a stage where the cells looked like embryonic stem cells. Once they arrived at that stage, we were able, with our collaborators to isolate these cells and then grow them in culture; in conditions of culture that are used for embryonic stem cell maintenance in the laboratory. So, this way of programming was by modifying genes and then using techniques that are normally used for embryonic stem cell biology.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
When you say ‘reprogramming’ you are not quite making an embryonic stem cell here, so, what is similar and what is different?

ALICE PEBAY
What is similar and what is different? Well, we know they are similar in the differentiation potentials. We know that they are similar in the expression of various what we call pluripotent markers that show that the cells are stem cells. But we know that they are potentially different and this is really very hot research today. But we know they are different in their epigenetics and potentially they might be different in their ability to differentiate, but it is not sure yet. Basically, what seems to happen although IPS cells which are the reprogrammed cells are able to differentiate into various cell types, I certainly found that in the laboratory it is a bit harder than for human embryonic stem cells to do the same job. We have to push them a bit more to differentiate. Is it a technical problem? Is it a reprogramming problem? Is it – we don’t know yet. We are still working on this to understand.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Alice, what do you mean by epigenetics?

ALICE PEBAY
Well, a very simple explanation of epigenetic would be a modification that is not found in a gene that has the modification but you will find in the next generation. So, it is epi-genetics.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Alice, why did you choose skin cells for this work? What is specific about them?

ALICE PEBAY
So, again, what we did with our work which was to derive IPS cells from people with a specific genetic disease, we followed protocols that were already published by other scientists around the world. Why did they choose skin cells? There might be various reasons. One of them is the availability of skin cells. Skin is the biggest organ of the human body. It is very easy to get a skin biopsy and to reprogram it. There are however today a discussion about the best source of cells that should be used or that could be used for generation of IPS cells and it seems in fact that the reprogramming efficacy might differ from one cell type to another. We’ve been using skin cells but why not using adipocytes or fat cells or other cell types to derive IPS cells, that’s totally open.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Mirella, we were talking earlier about some of the ethics involved around embryonic stem cell work, I can imagine one of the issues that would come up when you are doing this type of modification to a skin cell so that they can make many other cells is that, as mentioned earlier by Alice, embryonic stem cells allow you to essentially make the whole body. Does that become a problem with this work? Are you able to do the same sort of thing with your induced pluripotent stem cells?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
In theory yes. And actually they have shown that in the mouse where they could take these IPS cells generated from mouse tails’ skin cells and generated them into IPS cells and then they implanted these IPS cells into another mouse blastocyst then they implanted the blastocyst into a pregnant mouse, or, pseudopregnant mouse. The progeny of that mouse is all derived from the original IPS cells. So, in theory it is almost like cloning. That procedure there is like cloning. So, in theory the potential is there that yes from an IPS cell you can give rise to a whole new individual. And they have shown that.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
It sounds almost like these cells are too good to be true. Are we looking at the sort of the demolition of the embryonic stem cell field and is being replaced by this new type of induced cell that you are working on.

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Absolutely not. It is not perfect. As Alice mentioned there is several factors with IPS technology that still need to be addressed. And the fact that the way IPS cells are generated through essentially changing the whole genetic code, even that procedure is not perfect. So, when people have looked at all of the genes that are expressed in embryonic stem cells and compared that with IPS cells it is not 100% perfect match. Because obviously we don’t know everything. There is many things that we are still not sure about. You wonder, well there isn’t a perfect match, does that matter? And you never, ever know. So, in many ways ESLs, embryonic stem cells, are like the gold stamp. And we always need that to compare and contrast with IPS cells. Whether there is a need to keep deriving new ESL lines, maybe, maybe not. Perhaps we don’t need ESLs for therapies directly. But we always need them for research purposes.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Mirella, if you were to reach over right now and take a skin sample from me and then you were to go through this process of inducing these cells to have these incredible characteristics can you talk us through how you actually go about that in the lab what the process is?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Okay, so, you would go and see a doctor and would take out a small skin biopsy, leave one little stitch if that, and then from your skin we would basically culture the skin cells similar to what they would do from burn victims where they are culturing the skin again to replace the skin cells. And expand them up in numbers. And then we introduce these four, five different genes or proteins and there is different ways in which you can introduce these into cells. The traditional way and the most efficient way is by using viruses. And so by using viruses that carry these genes in there, they infect into the cells and they start expressing these genes these four five proteins that we call the Yamanaka factors. So, it is Oct 4, Klf 4, c-Myc, and Sox 2. So, once these proteins or genes are expressed, they incredibly basically induce these skin cells to express these same stem cell genes. They are like keys. They are like drivers. And they are sort of like telling the cell ‘okay we are here, so you start expressing your stem cell genes and silencing all the genes that make you a skin cell.’ So, that is why it is called reprogramming. And then once these skin cells are tricked or converted, transformed or reprogrammed into becoming like a stem cell they silence the genes that we introduced. Now, because the traditional way of using virus is not a therapeutically viable system so now there is many groups including our own lab, where we are using non-viral approaches. You can either directly put in the protein or you use other sort of systems such as plasmids which you can just bring these proteins into the cell. That is what is needed. You just need to bring these four five proteins to make that switch. Once the switch has happened you no longer need the exogenous genes.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
What is the most challenging part of this particular process?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
As incredible as it is, it is still quite inefficient. So, most groups around the world that do this, it is only about .1% of cells that actually end up being reprogrammed. So, after we introduce these genes we have to wait at least three weeks. And we wait patiently. We don’t do anything. We pray to the right gods. After some time we look down the microscope and suddenly you start seeing that these skin cells which are normally long and elongated they start changing their morphology and they become looking like stem cells so they are much more smaller, rounder, and they start proliferating. And they form what we call colonies. Once we see that down the microscope we think, ‘ah, that looks like they’ve reprogrammed.’ So, we mechanically, actually pick them, we isolate them and try and keep propagating them. If they stay propagated, then we know we are on the right track and starting to form a cell line. Then we do all the other characterisations that we have to look for other genes and see what they can do. Can they become nerves? Can they become muscle? Can they become this and that? Then we tick the box, yes, they’re stem cells. But that whole process takes a while. And the most efficient sort of reports, is still only 4%. So, there is many, many challenges we still have to face. But the fact that it can be done is what everyone is excited about.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
I’m Shane Huntington and my guests today are Dr Mirella Dottori and Dr Alice Pébay. We are talking about stem cells here on Up Close, coming to you from The University of Melbourne, Australia. Alice, one of the areas of great interest that you are focussing on is the condition called Friedreich’s ataxia. Can you give us an idea of what this is and what ataxia in particular is?

ALICE PEBAY
Friedreich's ataxia is a genetic disease. An autosomal recessive disease which basically is touching a gene called frataxin. Basically, there is an expansion in the DNA of a triplet of nucleotide. The expansion is too big and implies that the expression of the gene frataxin will not be done as in individuals who are not affected by Friedreich's ataxia. What happens is that the gene is not expressed properly, which means that the protein frataxin is not found in sufficient number in the cell. This protein frataxin although it is included by nuclear gene is migrating to the mitochondria. In the mitochondria, frataxin is involved in the transport of iron. There isn't an exchange of iron between the mitochondria and the cytoplasm. This modification ends up on the physiological level creating big issues, physiological issues for individuals such as ataxia, loss of movement, tremor, loss of sensory neurons, loss of neurons in the cerebellum. Loss in fact of many cell types. But that is the major problems that arise. There is also other problems. Such as diabetes that is linked to this disease. And problem with the heart. There is lots of heart problems which are not one single type of heart problem there is different type of heart problem but generally the fatalities are caused by the heart’s problem in Friedreich’s ataxia.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Mirella, who does this actually affect and at what age does it start?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
So, most commonly it starts in childhood, perhaps late childhood, but there is also a late onset. So basically there is a direct correlation as Alice mentioned that the disease comes from a GAA trinucleotide expansion within the frataxin gene.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Can you explain what you mean by this GAA expansion?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Basically, DNA is made up of four different types of nucleotides. G, A, T, C. Now within the genome sometimes you have what we call repeats of two nucleotides or three nucleotides that are similar that are repeated in number and sometimes if there is too many of these repeats it can cause disease like Huntington’s disease, for example, due to a specific repeat of these nucleotides expanded. In Friedreich’s ataxia a similar thing occurs. So they have specifically GAA, two of these nucleotides but in trinucleotide clusters called GAA. They’re expanded in numbers, so, a normal individual may only have up to 20 GAA GAA GAA. Whereas Friedreich’s ataxia they’ve got about 500 GAAs GAAs and so forth. Now where this occurs is within the intronic regions of that gene. So not the region of the gene that make up the protein. It is the spaces in between, you could say. And because of that huge expansion the DNA is very, very tightly coiled up and so the rest of the proteins can’t get access to it. Or, can’t open it up to have normal protein transcription occurring. So, what happens is you have very low levels of the protein being expressed. So, in Friedreich’s ataxia they don’t get 0% they only get like 9 or 10% being expressed. And therefore they get an onset of symptoms. Because people who are carriers if you have only got one chromosome that has this GAA repeat, they’re fine. And they are carrying half the amount of protein, they’re carrying 50%. Whereas in Friedreich’s ataxia they have both of these chromosomes, so, they’ve inherited from both parents, that have these GAA expansions so instead of being 100% or 50%, it is only 9 or 10%. Which results in 9, 10% of frataxin protein and hence the onset of symptoms and the disease characteristics. Now they have been able to correlate the longer the expansion the earlier the onset of the disease symptoms and also the quicker the rate of the disease progression. So, once you start getting symptoms of ataxia, loss of balance, and so forth, it progresses pretty quickly where affected individuals will in a few years need to be in a wheelchair. Their co-ordination is lost. And the type of nerves that tend to die are those that are involved in feeling and in weight and balance. So, it is not like motor-neuron disease where they can’t have muscle control, they do have muscle control, but they can’t feel the ground underneath them. They can’t feel things. And so because they don’t have that feedback from the body hence they can’t stand up. They can’t balance.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Now, when we talk about the use of induced pluripotent stem cells to treat this particular condition, how exactly will that work?

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Okay, so, there is several types that are affected, um, in Friedreich’s ataxia the predominant ones are specific cell types within the nervous system that causes the ataxia and in particular the heart cells and it is the heart cells which eventually does kill them. Because they basically get severe heart problems. So, with IPS cell technology there is no clinical trials out there yet. It is too much in early stages. Even with using human pluripotent stem cells such as embryonic stem cells. In terms of using them for cell replacement therapy what is possible and what is very, very tricky? So replacing cell types of the heart is perhaps one day a more feasible option. Even though, still quite complex. Quite complex. Replacing cell types of the nervous system is incredibly complex and most people think won’t be possible. But who knows, you never know. Simply because it is like a wiring system, the circuitry. However, the possibility is still in there. So, one possible thing would be to derive these IPS cells from patients. In an ideal world, correct the mutations, remove that GAA expansion, or introduce frataxin back in there, in a gene in the proper state, which we can do in the lab. And then transform these IPS cells into the cell types that need to be replaced in the body. So that is one potential. The other very valuable use of the cells is that there is a huge lack of appropriate cell models of the disease. Because different cell types are affected and the only cells that they have got to work with are mainly blood cells, skin cells from the patients which are not really affected, but nevertheless isolating these cells from the patient and trying to do drug screening or understand disease pathogenesis. So, now we have a source of by using IPS cells from these patients we can make IPS cells and drive them into the cell types we know specifically degenerate in this disease. The heart cells and the nerve cells. Now that we have got the nerve cells and the heart cells of the disease we can perform drug-screening assays to see the drugs will be able to increase frataxin levels in these cell types specifically. And that is really important. As you know if you take a drug not every cell responds in the same way. It is very specific to that cell type. And whilst there are some animal models of Friedreich’s ataxia they’re quite limited. So having a cellular system would be highly useful.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Alice, let me ask you with regards to the production these cells and you know growing them in the lab essentially what is restricting that to this low percentage success rate and what are we doing to sort of get around that?

ALICE PEBAY
Yeah, in making IPS the reprogramming technique is new it is only three, four years ago that it was described so many people around the world including us are working on to finding new techniques. Non-viral, small molecule. A whole bunch of new techniques to improve the efficiency of reprogramming. But I think that is only one part of the research. Another important part as well that once we get the IPS even if it is low reprogramming is to get an enrichment of the cells of interest and that is another extremely important part of research. How to get from a small amount of cells a much higher amount of in our case cardiomyocytes  or neurones I think that is an essential question. And the complexity of this research I guess is also coming from the fact that, as we said before, IPS cells are similar to human embryonic stem cells. We do not know today how similar or how different they really are. So on top of studying a disease with IPS cells we still studying whether IPS cells are a very good model of development for instance. Like ES cells are. Or if they have characteristics associated with the reprogramming. So this job is really complex at the moment because it is one to study the disease, to look at drug screening, to try to get higher number of cells, but also to make sure that the cells we have generated are in fact a mirror or not of a human embryonic stem cell. So it makes it very complex.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Dr Mirella Dottori, head of the Stem Cell Laboratory within the Centre for Neuroscience here at The University of Melbourne and Dr Alice Pébay, Senior Scientist and head of the Cardiac Differentiation Program of the Stem Cell Medicine Group, at the O’Brien Institute, thank you very much for being the guests on Up Close today and giving us an understanding of this exciting new area of research.

MIRELLA DOTTORI
Thank you very much.

ALICE PEBAY
Thank you.

SHANE HUNTINGTON
Relevant links, a full transcript and more info on this episode can be found at our website at upclose.unimelb.edu.au. Up Close is a production of The University of Melbourne, Australia. This episode was recorded on Thursday 24th February, 2011. Our producers for this episode were Kelvin Param and Eric van Bemmel. Audio engineering by Gavin Nabauer. Background research by Dyani Lewis. Up Close is created by Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param. I’m Shane Huntington, until next time, goodbye.

VOICEOVER
You’ve been listening to Up Close, for more information visit upclose.unimelb.edu.au. Copyright 2011 The University of Melbourne.


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