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Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft:

SPP 1356 - ‘Pluripotency and Cellular Reprogramming’

Research on cellular pluripotency is one of the most challenging and promising research fields in biomedicine. The potential to reprogram cells into any type of adult stem cell for the purpose of cell replacement therapy holds tremendous therapeutic implications and may circumvent current ethical considerations surrounding the derivation of new human embryonic stem cells for research and clinical applications. The molecular pathways controlling pluripotency and cellular reprogramming are now only beginning to be understood. A thorough understanding of regulatory pathways on the molecular level in pluripotent cells is essential for the development of effective and rational approaches to induce pluripotential reprogramming and direct pluripotent cells into specific differentiation pathways.

The priority program SPP 1356 will focus on two key areas crucial for the understanding of pluripotency and reprogramming:
a.) The identification and characterization of genetic and epigenetic networks that control pluripotency, i.e. the molecular basis for pluripotency;
b.) The mechanisms governing the reinstatement of pluripotency in a differentiated cell.

Figure: Features that influence pluripotency and reprogramming. Depicted is a murine preimplantation blastocyst -the origin of pluripotent cells- and features that influence pluripotency and reprogramming. Graphic: Jeanine Müller-Keuker

Therefore the work schedule of the interdisciplinary program group includes:

(1) the identification of novel as well as unsuspected genes and factors regulating pluripotency;
(2) the determination of molecular interconnections between the genetic and epigenetic pathways regulating pluripotency;
(3) the determination of the association between global and local chromatin nuclear structure and the regulation of pluripotency and
(4) the identification of practical and effective strategies to induce and regulate pluripotency by nuclear reprogramming, cell fusion, and extrinsic factors.

Priority programmes represent topic-oriented funding programmes of the DFG. They provide the opportunity for interdisciplinary networking and nationwide coordination of research projects in fields of current research interest. Priority Programmes are established for a period of up to six years.

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Funding Programme:

SPP 1356 Coordinator:
Prof. Dr. Albrecht Müller

Steering Committee:
Prof. Dr. Hans Robert Schöler
Prof. Dr. Jörn E. Walter
Prof. Dr. Martin Zenke