, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 100-115
Date: 14 Jun 2011

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: Fundamentals and Applications of the Reprogramming Process and its Ramifications on Regenerative Medicine

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Abstract

Objective

To provide a comprehensive source of information about the reprogramming process and induced pluripotency.

Background

The ability of stem cells to renew their own population and to differentiate into specialized cell types has always attracted researchers looking to exploit this potential for cellular replacement therapies, pharmaceutical testing and studying developmental pathways. While adult stem cell therapy has already been brought to the clinic, embryonic stem cell research has been beset with legal and ethical impediments.

Focus

The conversion of human somatic cells to human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), which are equivalent to human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), provides a system to sidestep these barriers and expedite pluripotent stem cell research for the aforementioned purposes. However, being a very recent discovery, iPSCs have yet to overcome many other obstacles and criticism to be proven safe and feasible for clinical use.

Methodology

This review introduces iPSC, the various methods that have been used to generate them and their pros and cons. It also covers in detail the pluripotency factors responsible for iPSC generation as well as the signaling pathways, epigenetic modifications and miRNA regulation implicated in the reprogramming process. The known molecular crosstalk between these reprogramming regulators is also illuminated. We will also mention the molecular compounds which have been shown to either replace one or more genetic factors or improve overall efficiency and kinetics of iPSC induction.

Conclusion

To conclude, we will briefly discuss the current problems that hinder bench to bedside translation of iPSC research as well as the possible steps that can bring iPSC therapy and other potential applications closer to fruition.