The Regenerative Potential of Induced Pluropotent Stem Cells

In 2006 Shinya Yamanaka of the Universiry of Kyoto discovered Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (IPSC) and one the noble price for the discovery.

Since the discovery of IPSC’s

Prize winning lab of researcher Shinya Yamanaka at Kyoto University in 2006, the thick morality lined clouds hovering over embryonic stem cell research began to fade away making room for happier times.

Advantages of using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

1.Less controversial than embryonic stem cells
2.Less likelihood of rejection
3.Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells are versatile

Some of the research advances using IPSC since there discovery:

Osaka and Cardiff Universities explored how iPSCs may be able to restore vision in humans. Using stem cells they were able to show that various types of human stem cells are able to take on characteristics of the cornea, lens, and retinas.

Kyoto University researchers explored the idea of using iPSCs to arrest the slide in decline of dopamine which hampers motor skills in those with Parkinson’s disease, researchers are conducting human trials using; 7 Parkinson’s disease patients were given 5 million iPSC derived dopaminergic progenitors which were transplanted directly into their brains with a special device in hopes that it will curtail effects of the disease. The patients are being closely monitored and observed over the next two years.

University of Minnesota researchers have created a cutting edge technology wherein cells can be converted into neural stem cells, which can be mixed and matched with alternating layers of silicon scaffold to be used to grow new connections in the spine between the nerves that remain in spinal cord injury. In lab testing this technology was found to grow nerves and connect undamaged separated cells. Testing showed new neurons could be grown in an injury site, however the work is still a way off in doing so in numbers that would allow a paralyzed human to walk again. Even with that being said partial repairing of the spinal cord could still improve functions such as bladder control, avoid involuntary movement of limbs, and improve quality of life which is still plenty reason to be excited.

Washington University research has made a breakthrough with a method of converting iPSCs into beta cells that can be inserted into the pancreas to treat diabetes.

In 2017 the Japanese government approved the first ever trial on humans wherein iPSCs are being used to create sheets bearing millions of heart muscle cells which are then grafted onto the heart of human patients with heart disease. It is hoped with the help of growth factors these sheets will promote regeneration of damaged muscles and improve the function of the heart. This first of its kind trial involves 3 patients, if all goes well the team hopes to have a larger trial with 10 patients, followed by commercial availability of the technique if all goes according to plan.

Research into male pattern baldness, recently shows how stem cells may play a role in hair revival, such as wherein scientists had converted iPSCs into epithelial stem cells which gave rise to hair follicle. Another technique coaxed iPSCs into the form of dermal papilla cells which triggered new hair growth.

iPSCs are opening up a diverse array of exciting new medical possibilities. At only 13 years of discovery this very well is likely just the tip of the iceberg of many wonderful things to come. What a great time this could be for the future of the entire medical field and the possibility of regenerative medicine.

AUTHOR
Dr. Anteneh Roba

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