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IUBMB Life. 2010 Apr;62(4):277-82. doi: 10.1002/iub.307.

Porcine induced pluripotent stem cells may bridge the gap between mouse and human iPS.

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  • 1Stem Cell and Cancer Biology Group, Key Laboratory of Regenerative Biology, South China Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou, China.


Recently, three independent laboratories reported the generation of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from pig (Sus scrofa). This finding sums to the growing list of species (mouse, human, monkey, and rat, in this order) for which successful reprogramming using exogenous factors has been achieved, and multiple others are possibly forthcoming. But apart from demonstrating the universality of the network identified by Shinya Yamanaka, what makes the porcine model so special? On one side, pigs are an agricultural commodity and have an easy and affordable maintenance compared with nonhuman primates that normally need to be imported. On the other side, resemblance (for example, size of organs) of porcine and human physiology is striking and because pigs are a regular source of food the ethical concerns that still remain in monkeys are not applicable. Besides, the prolonged lifespan of pigs compared with other domestic species can allow exhaustive follow up of side effects after transplantation. Porcine iPSCs may thus fill the gap between the mouse model, which due to its ease is preferred for mechanistic studies, and the first clinical trials using iPSCs in humans. However, although these studies are relevant and have created significant interest they face analogous problems that we discuss herein together with potential new directions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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