The generation of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) opens a new avenue in regenerative medicine. However, transplantation of hiPSC-derived cells carries a risk of tumor formation by residual pluripotent stem cells. Numerous adaptive strategies have been developed to prevent or minimize adverse events and control the in vivo behavior of transplanted stem cells and their progeny. Among them, the application of suicide gene modifications, which is conceptually similar to cancer gene therapy, is considered an ideal means to control wayward stem cell progeny in vivo. In this review, the choices of vectors, promoters, and genes for use in suicide gene approaches for improving the safety of hiPSCs-based cell therapy are introduced and possible new strategies for improvements are discussed. Safety-enhancing strategies that can selectively ablate undifferentiated cells without inducing virus infection or insertional mutations may greatly aid in translating human pluripotent stem cells into cell therapies in the future.
Keywords: induced pluripotent stem cells; regenerative medicine; stem cell therapy; suicide gene; vector.