Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Safe and simple stem cell generation from rare population of bone marrow cells

Technology #2432

Safe and simple stem cell generation from rare population of bone marrow cells

Stem cells are of high therapeutic value because they are pluripotent, meaning they can become any other cell type found in the body. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, like their name suggests, are stem cells derived from adult tissue that are induced to become pluripotent through a reprogramming process involving several key transcription factors. This process, however, remains difficult, plagued by low efficiency and the potential for tumor formation. iPS cell-based therapies, therefore, have yet to become commercially or clinically viable. This technology is a method for generating iPS cells in a more conventional manner; by specifically targeting a rare but detectable population of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) found in the bone marrow. This population is denoted by the baseline presence of most of the components required for conversion to iPS cells. Therefore, with the addition of just one transcription factor, this select MSC population can generate iPS cells with the ability to divide, differentiate, and regenerate the patient’s tissue.

Simpler reprogramming requirements eliminate need for exposure to dangerous virus

By targeting a cell type that is already very similar to iPS cells, the process of reprogramming is drastically simplified. This technology describes the process through which only a single transcription factor is needed to obtain patient-derived iPS cells. Because of the simplified reprogramming method, viral vectors can be avoided altogether, greatly reducing the risk of cancer development, and making these cells safe for regenerative medicine. Additionally, the introduction of the gene c-Myc is not required, further increasing the safety of this process.

The reprogramming of MSC’s from adult mice was confirmed through various cell assays.

Lead Inventor:

Timothy C. Wang M.D.


  • Generate patient-derived iPS cells for stem cell based therapies for treatment of diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, stroke and spinal cord injury
  • iPS cells can be cultivated in the lab or in vivo, allowing both patient-derived autograft and renegeration
  • A method to generate iPS cells for use in general biomedical research


  • Requirement of single gene versus the four typically required improves yield and simplicity
  • Direct plasmid transfection proven effective, eliminates need for dangerous viral vectors
  • Reduced risk for malignancy
  • Provides feasible route for iPS, reducing need for embryonic stem cells and therefore circumventing difficult ethical and legal issues

Patent information:

Patent Pending (US 20110300543)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR 2432