PerspectiveSTEM CELLS

Induced pluripotent stem cells, past and future

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Science  02 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6303, pp. 991-992
DOI: 10.1126/science.aai7626

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Summary

Ten years ago, Shinya Yamanaka and his student Kazutoshi Takahashi did an experiment of exquisite simplicity and elegance that changed biomedical research forever (1). By showing that a set of transcription factors could reprogram somatic cells to acquire a pluripotent stem cell state, they ushered in the era of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The discovery made it crystal clear that cell identity is much more malleable than previously thought, and provided an invaluable tool for disease-oriented and translational researchers, bridging reductionism with patient-derived relevance. Combined with other maturing technologies, most notably genome editing and three-dimensional (3D) cell culture systems, iPSC technology has enabled investigation that was hitherto only possible in model organisms (2, 3).