The prospect of pluripotent stem cell-based therapy

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Abstract

Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are able to maintain pluripotency in culture, to proliferate indefinitely and to differentiate into all somatic cell types. Due to these unique properties, hESC may become an exceptional source of tissues for transplantation and have a great potential for the therapy of incurable diseases. Here, we review new developments in the area of embryonic stem cells and discuss major challenges — standardization of protocols for cell derivation and cultivation, identification of specific molecular markers, development of new approaches for directed differentiation, etc. — which remain to be settled, prior to safe and successful clinical application of stem cells. We appraise several potential approaches in hESC-based therapy including derivation of autologous cells via therapeutic cloning (1), generation of immune tolerance to allogenic donor cells via hematopoetic chimerism (2), and development of the banks of hESC lines compatible with the main antigens and exhibiting equivalent pluripotency (3). In addition, we discuss briefly induced pluripotent cells, which are derived via genetic modification of autologous somatic cells and are analogous to ESC. Our analysis demonstrates that uncontrollable differentiation in vivo and teratogenic potential of hESC are critical limitations of their application in clinical practice. Therefore, the major approach in hESC therapy is derivation of a specific differentiated progeny, which has lower proliferative potential and immune privilege, yet poses fewer risks for organism. The review demonstrates that cell therapy is far more complex and resource-consuming process as compared with drug-based medicine and consequently pluripotent stem cell biology and technology still requires further investigation and development before these cells can be used in clinical practice.

Key words

embryonic stem cells induced pluripotent cells cell therapy 

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© Pleiades Publishing, Ltd. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Institute of Physicochemical MedicineMoscowRussia

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