Purpose of review: Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, which uses defined transcription factors to reprogram somatic cells to become pluripotent cells, offers a significant technical simplicity and enables generation of patient-specific pluripotent stem cells with reduced ethical concerns. This review will focus on recent progresses in understanding of iPSCs and improved methods of generating iPSCs.
Recent findings: Whereas iPSCs generated from a variety of cell sources were found to be nearly identical functionally to embryonic stem cells, some differences were also identified and remain to be characterized. Meanwhile, new methods of generating iPSCs with minimal or no exogenous genetic modifications to cells have advanced rapidly.
Summary: iPSC technology provides unprecedented opportunities in biomedical research and regenerative medicine. However, there remain a great deal to learn about iPSC safety, the reprogramming mechanisms, and better ways to direct a specific reprogramming process. The iPSC field will flourish on its mechanistic studies, iPSC-based disease modeling, and identification of new small molecules that modulate reprogramming.