Exciting work is under way in Scotland where Keisuke Kaji, researcher at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine (CRM), has been awarded a £4m Fellowship Award by the Medical Research Council.

The seven year project will focus on a further understanding of the reprogramming technique whereby specialised tissue cells in the body are manipulated in such a way that they become induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), cells that can go on to form any specialised type of cell in the body. Dr Kaji and his laboratory team at CRM will aim to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms of reprogramming using molecular biology techniques such as CRISPR/Cas9 and DamID.

Dr Kaji said: “The funding helps us to unravel the mechanisms underpinning the reprogramming technique. At the end of our project we hope to be able to generate iPS cells with a much higher efficiency and in a much shorter time period. “We have about 300 different cell types in our body, but can generate only a few of them in the laboratory today. We have evidence that some of the molecular manipulations used to generate iPS cells can also be used to make specialised cells more efficiently. We aim to understand how to control cell characteristics and make useful cell types for medical applications.”