Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) describe somatic cells that have been reprogrammed to the pluripotent state. From a scientific perspective, their discovery has provided a molecular roadmap for turning on and off cell identities, effectively allowing any cell type to have its identity changed into any other cell type. They also act as a human model for understanding the development of every cell and organ in the body. In addition, because they can be prepared from patients, iPSCs offer a unique human model for studying disease development, including many diseases that are generally diagnosed at a late stage of their development. These models have provided new insights on the pathogenesis and new targets to prevent or reverse the disease development process. Indeed, clinical studies on compounds based on drug screening hits in human iPSC disease models have begun. Because of their proliferation and differentiation capacity, iPSCs can also be used to prepare cells for transplantations, and related clinical studies using iPSC-based cell therapies are ongoing. The combination of iPSCs with other technologies or therapeutic strategies is expected to expand their medical benefits. In this review, we consider medical accomplishments based on iPSC research and future ones that can be anticipated.
Keywords: cell reprogramming; drug discovery; induced pluripotent stem cells; regenerative medicine.
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