Hailed as Breakthrough of the Year by Science back in 2008, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) have recently come under fire from some experts who question whether they are ever going to be suitable for transplanting to patients to treat disease. iPS cells, created using cell reprogramming techniques, are a source of stem cells without the need to destroy embryos. Thomas Okarma for example, in a recent article in The Times, recognises their usefulness as a research tool but remains sceptical about their clinical application.
So should we be abandoning research efforts into their potential uses in cell therapy? Douglas Sipp, from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, doesn’t think so. In a commentary published in the latest issue of Stem Cell Research & Therapy, Sipp argues that although there are certainly challenges to be faced in developing these clinical applications, there are ways these can be tackled to facilitate "revolutionary" advances in cell therapy, and sustained effort into this area of research remains imperative.