|Shinji Masui Ph.D.
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In order to manipulate the differentiation of cells, it is necessary to make several genes function together as a set. In the past, there was no method available to determine which genes should comprise this set and it was therefore unknown which genes should be made to function. We have been working to develop a method of identifying such a set of genes. In doing so, we have particularly focused our attention on transcription factors. Transcription factors bind to specific DNA sequences and initiate a program of transcription (i.e. get genes to start working). Humans are said to have more than 1,000 varieties of transcription factors, with each transcription factor designed to bind to specific sets of DNA sequences. In other words, which genes work and how the cell functions depends on which transcription factors exist in the cell. iPS cells have the ability to become all kinds of differentiated cells, but there are many kinds of differentiated cells that can barely be illustrated in vitro. In order to maximize the potential of iPS cells, in the future we will use a "set" of transcription factors to develop a highly efficient and high quality method for producing various differentiated cells. We will combine our initiative with many ongoing studies at the CiRA, thereby contributing to encourage the progress of studies for the purposes of practical applications of iPS cells.