In recent years, research that uses stem cells in regenerative medicine has been developed, to create repairing treatments for tissues and organs. Our Observatory has published several articles referring to the bioethical aspects of these researches and their, until now, relatively little real application in the medical clinic (see HERE).
Stem cell therapy research and Yamanaka’s Noble price in science
The beginning of these investigations was marked by the use of embryonic cells until Yamanaka designed the induced pluripotent stem cells – iPSCs (see HERE) produced with modified adult somatic cells from the patient themselves that are capable of replacing cells of embryonic origin (read HERE).
The use of these cells can replace embryonic cells in the research lines of new cell therapies to treat different diseases. Also, another good source of pluripotent cells is stem cells from adult tissues, such as mesenchymal cells used in various experiments such as the production of certain tissues and organoids and the production of medication.
Stem cell therapy research consolidated strategy
An example of this change in strategy is given by a recent article published in the journal Pharmacology and Therapeutics (SCIENCE) entitled Stem cell therapy in liver regeneration: Focus on mesenchymal stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells.
In a relevant area of biomedicine, such as liver regeneration, as an alternative to liver transplantation in pathologies in which an irreversible degeneration of this organ occurs, the authors show the promising advances represented by the use of mesenchymal cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to design regenerative therapies capable of curing these patients.
The article reviews current applications based on pluripotent stem cells, stating that “these techniques avoid (bioethics) long discussions in stem cell therapies and are expected to resolve immune rejection in transplantation therapy”.
The authors explain how the promising advances represented by the use of mesenchymal cells and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to design regenerative therapies capable of curing these patients are a relevant line of study.
The article affirms that the current line of research is based on pluripotent stem cells, stating that “these techniques avoid (bioethics) long discussions in stem cell therapies and are expected to resolve immune rejection in transplantation therapy”.
The article shows the five lines of research in which this type of cells are being used:
- Generation of mature and functional hepatocytes for the regeneration of liver tissue
- Production of liver organoids
- Design of models of related diseases, since IPSC technology allows cultivating cell lines related to certain diseases, thus avoiding animal models (read HERE).
- Design and testing of medication. It makes it possible to develop new drugs that require certain tests on cells or tissues that would make the use of cell lines from embryos unnecessary.
- Combining genetic editing with these techniques. See Research study combines the latest advances in gene editing with the therapeutic potential of stem cells (read, Research study combines latest advances in gene editing with the therapeutic potential of stem cells)
The aforementioned article, which we recommend reading, concludes by referring to the great value of the different applications mentioned, although it states that there is still a long way to go to achieve the clinical application of all these possibilities.