Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) technology has propelled the field of stem cells biology, providing new cells to explore the molecular mechanisms of pluripotency, cancer biology and aging. A major advantage of human iPSC, compared to the pluripotent embryonic stem cells, is that they can be generated from virtually any embryonic or adult somatic cell type without destruction of human blastocysts. In addition, iPSC can be generated from somatic cells harvested from normal individuals or patients, and used as a cellular tool to unravel mechanisms of human development and to model diseases in a manner not possible before. Besides these fundamental aspects of human biology and physiology that are revealed using iPSC or iPSC-derived cells, these cells hold an immense potential for cell-based therapies, and for the discovery of new or personalized pharmacological treatments for many disorders. Here, we review some of the current challenges and concerns about iPSC technology. We introduce the potential held by iPSC for research and development of novel health-related applications. We briefly present the efforts made by the scientific and clinical communities to create the necessary guidelines and regulations to achieve the highest quality standards in the procedures for iPSC generation, characterization and long-term preservation. Finally, we present some of the audacious and pioneer clinical trials in progress with iPSC-derived cells.
Keywords: Cell-based therapy; Disease modelling; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Reprogramming; Stem cell banking.