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Transfus Med Hemother. 2011;38(2):107-123. Epub 2011 Mar 16.

Cryopreservation of Human Stem Cells for Clinical Application: A Review.

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UK Stem Cell Bank, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Health Protection Agency, South Mimms, Potters Bar, UK.


Stem cells have been used in a clinical setting for many years. Haematopoietic stem cells have been used for the treatment of both haematological and non-haematological disease; while more recently mesenchymal stem cells derived from bone marrow have been the subject of both laboratory and early clinical studies. Whilst these cells show both multipotency and expansion potential, they nonetheless do not form stable cell lines in culture which is likely to limit the breadth of their application in the field of regenerative medicine. Human embryonic stem cells are pluripotent cells, capable of forming stable cell lines which retain the capacity to differentiate into cells from all three germ layers. This makes them of special significance in both regenerative medicine and toxicology. Induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells may also provide a similar breadth of utility without some of the confounding ethical issues surrounding embryonic stem cells. An essential pre-requisite to the commercial and clinical application of stem cells are suitable cryopreservation protocols for long-term storage. Whilst effective methods for cryopreservation and storage have been developed for haematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cells, embryonic cells and iPS cells have proved more refractory. This paper reviews the current state of cryopreservation as it pertains to stem cells and in particular the embryonic and iPS cell.

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