Approaching technical hurdles to iPS technology

Producing induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) has the potential to revolutionize drug discovery and regenerative medicine.  These cells have an advantage over embryonic stem cells, which face both ethical concerns and the technical difficulties isolating cells from human embryos.

Takahashi and Yamanaka’s breakthrough study in 2006 showed that pluripotent stem cells could be directly generated from fibroblast cultures, and significant progress has been made since then to improve their technique.  In a review published in Stem Cell Research & Therapy Sommer and Mostoslavsky summarize current reprogramming methods, focusing on the production of genetically unmanipulated induced pluripotent stem cells.  They highlight important technical details that could influence the biological properties of these cells and outline techniques worth additional investigation.

Despite some criticism of the iPS approach, there have been many improvements to both the safety and efficiency of reprogramming methodologies.  Sommer and Mostoslavsky are positive about the way forward, concluding that "Given the rapid pace of the field, further optimization of the protocols coupled with a thorough analysis of the iPSC lines generated will facilitate the clinical translation of this technology."

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