Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are derived from mature cells in the body such as skin or blood cells that have been reprogrammed back into an embryonic-like pluripotent state.
A pluripotent stem cell is the most versatile stem cell. It has the ability to replicate itself indefinitely. It can also differentiate into any other type of cell in the body.
Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are also a pluripotent stem cell, yet come with associated stigma and ethical concerns, whereas induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are not derived from embryos, so these controversies not applicable.
Professor James Thomson and his team at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, including Professor Igor Slukvin (one of the founders of Cynata) were pioneers in the development of iPSCs. In 2007, they were one of two independent research groups that first reported the creation of iPSCs from human cells (along with Professor Shinya Yamanaka et al, at Kyoto University, Japan).
The ability to reprogram cells from adult donors into a pluripotent embryonic-like state has been met with great excitement, as it significantly advanced the potential for regenerative therapy. iPSCs – like ESCs – are cells that can (i) be expanded without limit, (ii) can be stored over long periods and (iii) can produce tissue cells of any type. This makes iPSCs an ideal building-block for cell-based therapies.
iPSCs themselves are not administered directly to patients as medical treatments. Instead, the iPSCs are used as a starting material to produce other types of cells, which may have the potential to be used as therapeutic agents.In Cynata’s case, iPSCs are used in the manufacture of its Cymerus™ mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).