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Current Methods for Inducing Pluripotency in Somatic Cells

Authors

  • Geertrui Tavernier,

    1. Ghent University, Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
    Current affiliation:
    1. These authors contributed equally to this work
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  • Barbara Mlody,

    1. Molecular Embryology and Aging Group, Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Ihnestrasse 63, 14195 Berlin, Germany
    Current affiliation:
    1. These authors contributed equally to this work
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  • Jo Demeester,

    1. Ghent University, Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
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  • James Adjaye,

    Corresponding author
    1. Molecular Embryology and Aging Group, Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Ihnestrasse 63, 14195 Berlin, Germany
    2. Institute for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine, Heinrich Heine University Duesseldorf, Moorenstrasse 5, 40225 Duesseldorf, Germany
    • Molecular Embryology and Aging Group, Department of Vertebrate Genomics, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Ihnestrasse 63, 14195 Berlin, Germany.
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  • Stefaan C. De Smedt

    Corresponding author
    1. Ghent University, Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
    • Ghent University, Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
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Abstract

The groundbreaking discovery of reprogramming fibroblasts towards pluripotency merely by introducing four transcription factors (OCT4, SOX2, KLF4 and c-MYC) by means of retroviral transduction has created a promising revolution in the field of regenerative medicine. These so-called induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can provide a cell source for disease-modelling, drug-screening platforms, and transplantation strategies to treat incurable degenerative diseases, while circumventing the ethical issues and immune rejections associated with the use of non-autologous embryonic stem cells. The risk of insertional mutagenesis, caused both by the viral and transgene nature of the technique has proven to be the major limitation for iPSCs to be used in a clinical setting. In view of this, a variety of alternative techniques have been developed to induce pluripotency in somatic cells. This review provides an overview on current reprogramming protocols, discusses their pros and cons and future challenges to provide safe and transgene-free iPSCs.

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