One of the significant developments in the life science research has been to take embryonic and adult fibroblasts and reprogram them into pluripotent stem cells. These pluripotent cells can be differentiated into other cell types such as neural cells, cardiomyocytes etc. However a recent development has enabled reprogramming embryonic and adult stem cells directly into specific tissue specific cells without reverting them into pluripotent cell stage. This process saves time and increases safety of the process. Because undifferentiated pluripotent cells can become tumorigenic. Using this direct method one can propagate the desired cell types ex-vivo into large number of functional cells, which can be used for therapeutic applications. One of the reprogramming methods is to deliver the appropriate drug combination to the desired site in the body where the fibroblasts are reprogrammed in situ. The other method is treat the fibroblasts with generic established reprogramming factors and later expose them to specific signals for specific cell types. Different cell types including neuronal progenitor, cardio myocytes, endothelial cells, pancreatic cells, and direct reprogramming has produced hepatocytes.
One of the main benefits of reprogramming cells is to expand them ex vivo and deliver to the target area in the body for repair of damaged cells, or tissue. Dr Richard Daley’s lab at Children’s Hospital lab in Boston has been studying the signaling pathway for hematopoiesis and its effect on the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. Although this is a very promising field to treat blood cell diseases, more research needs to be done for the safety and efficacy of the procedure. One of the issues is the functional variability of the induced pluripotent stem cells. This variability can be partly attributed to genetic and epi-genetic influences. This means developing multiple cell lines in the hopes of finding the ones, which have the functional attributes one is looking for. This is very time consuming and costly endeavor.
Increasingly new tools and reagents aid in the research and development in this area. A variety of growth and differentiation factors are offered by a number of companies including reagents as well as plastic wear specifically helping the stem cell research such as multiwell cell culture plates with grids (Grid Plates), and cell culture dish (petridish) with numbered grids (Grid Dish) . Companies, which offer a number of stem cell related research reagents include Life technologies, Stem cell technologies, Cellular Dynamics etc.
Reprogramming the cells to the desired cell type for therapeutic application is making significant progress. It needs to be a multi disciplinary approach, which can benefit other disciplines including regenerative medicine, immunology, oncology, and chromatin biology. The iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes has become very important tool for in vitro cardiac risk assessment. These human cells plated in the