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Progress and bottleneck in induced pluripotency

  • Author(s): Zhang, Zhen-Ning
  • Xu, Yang
  • et al.

Abstract With their capability to undergo unlimited self-renewal and to differentiate into all cell types in the body, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), reprogrammed from somatic cells of individual patients with defined factors, have unlimited potential in cell therapy and in modeling complex human diseases. Significant progress has been achieved to improve the safety of iPSCs and the reprogramming efficiency. To avoid the cancer risk and spontaneous reactivation of the reprogramming factors associated with the random integration of viral vectors into the genome, several approaches have been established to deliver the reprogramming factors into the somatic cells without inducing genetic modification. In addition, a panel of small molecule compounds, many of which targeting the epigenetic machinery, have been identified to increase the reprogramming efficiency. Despite these progresses, recent studies have identified genetic and epigenetic abnormalities of iPSCs as well as the immunogenicity of some cells derived from iPSCs. In addition, due to the oncogenic potential of the reprogramming factors and the reprogramming-induced DNA damage, the critical tumor suppressor pathways such as p53 and ARF are activated to act as the checkpoints that suppress induced pluripotency. The inactivation of these tumor suppression pathways even transiently during reprogramming processes could have significant adverse impact on the genome integrity. These safety concerns must be resolved to improve the feasibility of the clinic development of iPSCs into human cell therapy.

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