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December 20, 2011
Lunenfeld researchers author concise review of embryonic and iPS cells
“Extraordinary advances in pluripotent stem cell research have initiated an era of hope for regenerative strategies to treat human disease. Alongside embryonic stem (ES) cells, the discovery of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells widened the possibility of patient specific cell therapy, drug discovery and disease modelling. Although similar, it has become clear that these two pluripotent cell types display significant differences.”
Excerpted from a review paper in Stem Cells, November 2011.
Lunenfeld Senior Investigator Dr. Andras Nagy and Scientific Associate Dr. Mira Puri authored a review paper last month in Stem Cells of some of the recent findings from the Nagy lab, as well as other groups, on the biological differences between ES cells and iPS cells. In their review, Drs. Nagy and Puri explore current knowledge of the molecular and functional similarities and differences between these two cell types to emphasize the necessity for thorough characterization of their properties both in the pluripotent state as well as their differentiation capabilities. Such comparative studies will be crucial for determining the best strategy for future stem cell-based therapies of human degenerative diseases.
“In the past five or six years there has been an enormous amount of research and promise dedicated to iPS cells,” says Dr. Puri. “Like ES cells, these cells are pluripotent but have the advantage of not requiring an embryonic source: any cell type can be used to make iPS cells. However, as we discuss in the review, there have been several recent studies that indicate that we must continue to use ES cells to understand pluripotency and the ability of such cells to differentiate into tissues that are of therapeutic interest.”
Notably, says Dr. Puri, several studies, including one from the Nagy lab, have demonstrated that iPS cells may be more susceptible to genomic damage, meaning that genes can become mutated and potentially lead to deleterious results when such affected cells are returned to patients. “In our review we discuss additional differences between iPS cells and ES cells, and we conclude that we need more data before we favour one cell type over the other in terms of development of therapeutic advantage,” says Dr. Puri. 
To read the abstract from Stem Cells, click here.

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