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Curr Stem Cell Res Ther. 2012 May;7(3):191-6.

Cell therapy using induced pluripotent stem cells or somatic stem cells: this is the question.

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  • 1Laboratorio de Neurociencias, Universidad de los Andes, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile.


A lot of effort has been developed to bypass the use of embryonic stem cells (ES) in human therapies, because of several concerns and ethical issues. Some unsolved problems of using stem cells for human therapies, excluding the human embryonic origin, are: how to regulate cell plasticity and proliferation, immunological compatibility, potential adverse side-effects when stem cells are systemically administrated, and the in vivo signals to rule out a specific cell fate after transplantation. Currently, it is known that almost all tissues of an adult organism have somatic stem cells (SSC). Whereas ES are primary involved in the genesis of new tissues and organs, SSC are involved in regeneration processes, immuno-regulatory and homeostasis mechanisms. Although the differentiating potential of ES is higher than SSC, several studies suggest that some types of SSC, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), can be induced epigenetically to differentiate into tissue-specific cells of different lineages. This unexpected pluripotency and the variety of sources that they come from, can make MSC-like cells suitable for the treatment of diverse pathologies and injuries. New hopes for cell therapy came from somatic/mature cells and the discovery that could be reprogrammed to a pluripotent stage similar to ES, thus generating induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). For this, it is necessary to overexpress four main reprogramming factors, Sox2, Oct4, Klf4 and c-Myc. The aim of this review is to analyze the potential and requirements of cellular based tools in human therapy strategies, focusing on the advantage of using MSC over iPS.

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