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Biological Impact of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

  • Miguel Martín
  • Pablo Menéndez
Chapter
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 741)

Abstract

Research on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and induced pluripotent (iPS) stem cells is currently a field of great potential in biomedicine. These cells represent a highly valuable tool for developmental biology studies, disease models, and drug screening and toxicity. The ultimate goal of hESCs and iPS cell research is the treatment of diseases or disorders for which there is currently no treatment or existing therapies are only partially effective. Despite the disproportionate short-term hopes generated, which are putting too much pressure on scientists, the international scientific community is making rapid progress in understanding hESCs and iPS cells. Nonetheless, great efforts have to be made to provide an answer to still quite basic questions concerning their biology. Moreover, translation to clinical applications in cell replacement therapy requires prior solution to ethical barriers. The recent development of iPS cells has provided a strong alternative to overcome ethical issues concerning hESCs. However, an in-depth characterization of their genetic and epigenetic features, as well as their differentiation potential still remains to be undertaken. This chapter will describe, precisely, what the critical issues are, where scientific and ethical barriers stand, and how we are to overcome them. Only then, we shall finally discover whether hESCs and iPS cells will allow building reproducible disease models, and whether they really are a safe tool, with great potential for regenerative medicine.

Keywords

Stem Cell Human Embryonic Stem Cell Inner Cell Mass hESC Line Cell Replacement Therapy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Landes Bioscience and Springer Science+Business Media 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miguel Martín
    • 1
    • 3
  • Pablo Menéndez
    • 2
  1. 1.Andalusian Centre of Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine-CABIMERSevillaSpain
  2. 2.Biomedical Research CentreAndalusian Stem Cell Bank (BACM)GranadaSpain
  3. 3.Hospital Virgen de la Victoria-Fundacion IMABISMalagaSpain

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