Author: Kevin Bielic
This is a guest post written by Kevin Bielec, a Scientist at RheinCell Therapeutics GmbH, a Düsseldorf-based company that specializes in research-grade production and characterization of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) produced from cord blood. Previously, Kevin worked as an iPSC Scientist for Roslin Cells, a world leader in the production of iPSCs for use in research, drug discovery and cell therapy.
The Transformative Power of iPSCs
“It might walk like a duck, it might talk like duck. That doesn’t mean it is a duck!”
These are the words of a great scientist and brilliant mind which are on my mind a few weeks after starting up work within the iPSC industry. Sitting in my office with a fantastic view of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, I suddenly find myself in a discussion about the fundamental pros and cons of using reprogrammed cells instead of “the golden standard” – human embryonic stem cells (ESCs).
Like most questions in life, there is no right or wrong, no black or white answer. Both iPSCs and ESCs have advantages and disadvantages.
The only fact we can say for sure is that iPSCs have undoubtedly changed the landscape of modern stem cell research and offer distinct advantages, including their relative ease of production and lack of ethical controversy.
For me, the discovery of taking fully differentiated cells and changing their plasticity is one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century.
Future Directions for iPSC Research
Based on my experience as a researcher, the following are represent future directions for iPSC research.
1. Gaining deeper insight and control over genetic and epigenetic changes to guarantee genetic and phenotype stability
With iPSC-based products moving rapidly toward clinical applications, it is important to ensure the long-term safety of the iPSC-derived therapeutics.
The use of non-integrating reprogramming methods already reduces the median number of copy number variations (CNVs) and significantly lowers the incidence of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or genetic mosaicism, as compared to integrating methods. Replacing carcinogenesis-related reprogramming factors like c-Myc with less carcinogenic gene family members like L-Myc, also reduces the occurrence of chromosomal aberrations. [Read more…]