Human histocompatibility antigens are quite heterogeneous and promote the rejection of transplanted tissue. Recent advances in stem cell research that enable the use of a patient's own stem cells for transplantation are very important because rejection could be avoided. In particular, Yamanaka's group in Japan gave new hope to patients with incurable diseases when they developed induced murine pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in 2006 and human iPSCs in 2007. Whereas embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from the inner cell mass and are supported in culture by LIF, iPSCs are derived from fetal or adult somatic cells. Through the application of iPSC technology, adult somatic cells can develop a pluripotent state. One advantage of using iPSCs instead of ESCs in regenerative medicine is that (theoretically) immune rejection could be avoided, although there is some debate about immune rejection of a patient's own iPSCs. Many diseases occur in elderly patients. In order to use regenerative medicine with the elderly, it is important to demonstrate that iPSCs can indeed be generated from older patients. Recent findings have shown that iPSCs can be established from aged mice and aged humans. These iPSCs can differentiate to cells from all three germ layers. However, it is not known whether iPSCs from aged mice or humans show early senescence. Before clinical use of iPSCs, issues related to copy number variation, tumorigenicity and immunogenicity must be resolved. It is particularly important that researchers have succeeded in generating iPSCs that have differentiated to somatic cells related to specific diseases of the elderly, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. These efforts will facilitate the use of personalized stem cell transplantation therapy for currently incurable diseases.
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