Regenerative Medicine – An Overview

Two years ago, two teams reported on the successful reprogramming of a human adult cell back to its original state of pluripotency. This reprogrammed cell, known as an inducible pluripotent stem cell (iPS cell), can differentiate into any kind of cell. Stem cells can become specialized cells like pancreatic islet cells that produce insulin and intestinal lining cells that again generate digestive enzymes. 

They also have the ability to differentiate into muscle, ligament, cartilage, and bone cells. If the conditions are right, iPS cells can produce specific tissues and organs that can be used in the treatment of disease or transplantation. For detailed information, you can hop over to

Reprogramming adult cells opens new avenues for medical research. The possibility of reprogramming adult cells will have a significant impact on the debate surrounding embryonic stem cell research. Reprogramming involves adult cells, not ESCs. This means much of regenerative medicine might be able to proceed without the necessity for the destruction of embryos. Since 2007, research has been ongoing to find non-viral ways of introducing transformative genes.

One of these teams is led by Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA. His team has recently discovered a small protein molecule that can replace Klf4, which is one of the genes used for reprogramming adult cells. A viral delivery system is not necessary if all genes can be replaced with small molecules. This would be a major breakthrough in the field of regenerative medicine.