, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 193-203

Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: In Quest of Clinical Applications

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Abstract

In the field of regenerative medicine, the development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells may represent a potential strategy to overcome the limitations of human embryonic stem cells (ESCs). iPS cells have the potential to mimic human disease, since they carry the genome of the donor. Hypothetically, with iPS cell technology it is possible to screen patients for a genetic cause of disease (genetic mutation), develop cell lines, reprogram them back to iPS cells, finally differentiate them into one or more cell types that develop the disease. Although the creation of multiple lineages with iPS cells can seem limitless, a number of challenges need to be addressed in order to effectively use these cell lines for disease modeling. These include the low efficiency of iPS cell generation without genetic alterations, the possibility of tumor formation in vivo, the random integration of retroviral-based delivery vectors into the genome, and unregulated growth of the remaining cells that are partially reprogrammed and refractory to differentiation. The establishment of protein or RNA-based reprogramming strategies will help generate human iPS cells without permanent genetic alterations. Finally, direct reprogramming strategies can provide rapid production of models of human “diseases in a dish”, without first passing the cells through a pluripotent state, so avoiding the challenges of time-consumming and labor-intensive iPS cell line generation. This review will overview methods to develop iPS cells, current strategies for direct reprogramming, and main applications of iPS cells as human disease model, focusing on human cardiovascular diseases, with the aim to be a potential information resource for biomedical scientists and clinicians who exploit or intend to exploit iPS cell technology in a range of applications.