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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Jan 5;368(1609):20110334. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2011.0334.

Stem cell therapy: an exercise in patience and prudence.

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Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, IMSUT, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8639, Japan.


In recent times, the epigenetic study of pluripotency based on cellular reprogramming techniques led to the creation of induced pluripotent stem cells. It has come to represent the forefront of a new wave of alternative therapeutic approaches in the field of stem cell therapy. Progress in drug development has saved countless lives, but there are numerous intractable diseases where curative treatment cannot be achieved through pharmacological intervention alone. Consequently, there has been an unfortunate rise in incidences of organ failures, degenerative disorders and cancers, hence novel therapeutic interventions are required. Stem cells have unique self-renewal and multilineage differentiation capabilities that could be harnessed for therapeutic purposes. Although a number of mature differentiated cells have been characterized in vitro, few have been demonstrated to function in a physiologically relevant context. Despite fervent levels of enthusiasm in the field, the reality is that other than the employment of haematopoietic stem cells, many other therapies have yet to be thoroughly proven for their therapeutic benefit and safety in application. This review shall focus on a discussion regarding the current status of stem cell therapy, the issues surrounding it and its future prospects with a general background on the regulatory networks underlying pluripotency.

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