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Establishment of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) from the Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel

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Hibernation in mammals is a seasonal state of metabolic suppression and dormancy characterized by a decrease in body temperature to survive extreme environmental stresses. A new Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) line has been established from the neural precursor cells of wild type thirteen-lined ground squirrel (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus), a small mammalian hibernator with unique metabolic adaptations for coping with cold and restricted food supply. This ground squirrel iPSC line can be differentiated into many different cell types for hibernation studies, disease modeling, and drug screening for neuronal injuries or other diseases.
NIH Reference Number
Product Type
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC), Squirrel, hibernation, neural injury, cellular stress, coldness, Li
Collaboration Opportunity
This invention is available for licensing.
Description of Technology

The limited choice in cell types available for in vitro studies has become an obstacle in hibernation research. 

Researchers at the NAtional Eye Institute for the first time have successfully established iPSC line(s) from a mammalian hibernator, which can be potentially used to generate various cell types and tissue models for in-depth mechanistic studies of hibernation and coldness tolerance in vitro. 

Hibernation-specific features make this line a unique platform and valuable tool for inspiring novel pharmacological strategies. For example, they can be used to bestow cold adaptability to target cells and organs derived from non-hibernating mammals, as well as translating cold-adaptive strategies into humans in clinical applications, such as neural injury or other diseases that involve cold intolerance.

Compared with human iPSC-derived neurons, GS iPSC-derived neurons are not susceptible to cold stress treatment.

Potential Commercial Applications
  • Research tool for studying hibernation and cold adaptability and disease modeling
  • Drug screening platform for neuronal injuries or other diseases
Competitive Advantages
  • The first iPSC line established from small hibernators like ground squirrel
  • Potential in generating various cell types and tissue models for in-depth mechanistic studies of hibernation and coldness tolerance in vitro
  • Unique benefits in studying hibernation mechanism and cold-adaptive strategies 
Development Stage

J. Ou et al. iPSCs from a Hibernator Provide a Platform for Studying Cold Adaptation and Its Potential Medical Applications   [PMID: 29576452]

Patent Status
  • Research Material: NIH will not pursue patent prosecution for this technology
Therapeutic Area
Tuesday, January 26, 2021