Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs)

Induced pluripotent stem cells are adult cells that have had certain genes forced to be “turned on” or “expressed” using laboratory techniques (known as genetic “reprogramming”). This technique leads to the adult cells becoming “pluripotent” stem cells, meaning they have become stem cells with the ability to change, or “differentiate” to become any cell type found in the human body. The method of creating iPSC requires the use of biological molecules in a laboratory setting. This results in a cascade of genetic changes resulting in the production of an iPSC. It is not known if iPSC have the same characteristics as human Embryonic Stem Cells (hESC), especially relative to their safety for therapeutic use. The potential therapeutic advantage of iPSC for therapeutic use is that since the iPSC are derived from a patient, it is unlikely that the cells will be recognized and rejected by the patient’s immune system. Also, iPSC have great potential as to create laboratory model systems of human diseases by making iPSC from adult cells that have genetic defects that lead to specific genetic diseases.