Stem Cell Types

pluripotent stem cells

An Overview on Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Types

Ever since stem cells were discovered, they have transformed scientific research and drug discovery in many ways. Stem cells have advanced our scientific understanding on the development of tissues and organs from fetal stage till adulthood and beyond. While stem cells have improved our knowledge on how chronic diseases occur, they showed tremendous promise as a therapy to either repair or replace damaged organs in conditions such as type 1 diabetes, hepatitis, arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

What are stem cells?

Stem cells can be described as fundamental units of life with an ability to multiple indefinitely without changing their original properties. Stem cells can be broadly divided into 3 categories

  1. Pluripotent stem cells – These cells can transform into any cell or tissue in the body.
  2. Multipotent stem cells – These cells can transform into any cell inside a particular tissue or organ.
  3. Unipotent stem cells – These cells can only transform into a single cell type in a particular tissue or organ.

Pluripotent stem cells are usually found during the embryonic stage. As the embryo transforms into the fetus, pluripotent stem cells are gradually replaced by multipotent and unipotent stem cells, also known as adult stem cells. Adult stem cells are present in every organ of the body and are responsible for replenishment of old cells with new cells throughout the life, whenever needed.

What are induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells?

Until 2006, pluripotent stem cells were obtained from an embryo. In 2006, 2 researchers from Kyoto University, Japan from made a remarkable discovery and showed that non-embryonic specialized adult cells (somatic cells) can be reprogrammed back to acquire embryonic stem cell like properties. Kazutoshi Takahashi and Shinya Yamanaka induced pluripotency in mouse skin cells by artificially introducing 4 genes (Oct4, c-Myc, Klf4, and Sox2), also known as essential transcription factors, using viruses. Like embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can divide forever and transform into any cell type under right conditions. For this discovery, Dr. Yamanaka was awarded 2012 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. Today, this technique is routinely used by scientists for creating iPS cells from human cells.

What is the use of iPS cells in modern medicine?

Owing to their huge potential in regenerative medicine for treating patients with difficult-to-cure diseases, scientists around the world are trying to optimize the technology to be efficient, effective and safe for human clinical use. With the invention of iPS cells, it is now possible to generate cell types that are difficult to isolate and understand how they are affected in a disease. For example, scientists can obtain skin cells from a patient suffering with a disease like spinal muscular atrophy, genetically reprogram them into neurons and use them to either understand the disease process. In patients suffering with diseases like type 1 diabetes, iPS cells can be reprogrammed from skin cells, and transformed to a healthy pancreas in the laboratory using precisely controlled conditions. This pancreas can then be transplanted back into the patient. Since the tissue is being generated using patient’s own cells, this procedure completely eliminates the possibility of immune rejection. Recent studies show iPSC technology can also be used for successful regeneration of damaged cartilage, eroded joints and inflamed synovium, which are symptoms commonly observed in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, further research is required to fully understand the behavior of iPS cells within the human body before their clinical use becomes a reality.

If you are interested to know more about iPS technology or want to know whether iPS cells can be used as therapy for your health condition, please do not hesitate to contact us at At Stem X, we utilize cutting edge discoveries and state-of-the-art equipment in regenerative medicine such as amniotic cell membrane injections to alleviate chronic pain, repair damaged tissue and reduce inflammation in orthopedic patients suffering with musculoskeletal disorders.


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