Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) cells are created by re-programming a differentiated cell into a pluripotent state. Once that occurs, iPS cells demonstrate many of the properties of embryonic stem cells.
Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Revisited – Where Are We Now and Where Are We Going?
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 from 2:00-3:30
Panelists: * Joydeep Goswami – Life Technologies -- Moderator * Chad Cowan – Harvard University * Mahendra Rao – Life Technologies * E. Edward Baetge – Novocell, Inc * Joe Hammang – Pfizer, Inc. Induced Pluripotent
Stem (iPS) cells are created by re-programming a differentiated cell into a pluripotent state. Once that occurs, iPS cells demonstrate many of the properties of embryonic stem cells. Thus, using iPS cells, scientists can create any of the body's cell types without using embryos and can derive these cells with the particular genetic traits they want to study.
In addition, recent evidence indicates that scientists might be able to re-program differentiated cells without "taking them all the way back" to a completely undifferentiated state. Therefore, iPS cells hold the promise of leading to new cell therapies based on the use of genetically matched cells as well as becoming a mechanism to study genetic diseases, better understand cell differentiation, and screen new compounds during drug discovery.
The role of iPS cells for screening of molecular targets should not be understated; especially when adult stem cells are unavailable or the disease model makes use of other cells inappropriate. An example would be to study the impact of new chemical compounds on neurons of patients with Parkinson's Disease. When used for screening, iPS cells can help researchers understand the functional utility of a potential therapy.
However, to be most effective, scientists need to shorten and accelerate the derivation process. Pharmaceutical companies eye use of iPS cells for target identification and development, learning about cell differentiation and developmental biology, screening, and understanding genetic models of disease. This knowledge could reduce drug development times and improve product safety.
Despite the promise of iPS cells, embryonic stem cell research must continue. That's because these technologies are too new for anyone to say with confidence that this research should be stopped. Moreover, although iPS cells contain many properties similar to embryonic stem cells – including over-expression of telomerase and pluripotency – there are differences between the two types of cells.
For example, while iPS cells appear to be well suited to design personalized and targeted therapies based on genetics, embryonic stem cells may have more value for drug discovery and development for diseases with larger populations. More research is needed to compare the properties of the two types of pluripotent cells.