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Regenerative Medicine Releases Special Focus Issue on Human iPS Cells

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The journal Regenerative Medicine has announced that the July 2010 issue will provide an exclusive focus on Cellular Reprogramming and Induced Pluripotent Stem (iPS) Cells.

The special focus issue will provide full coverage, including basic science, disease modeling, regulatory issues, intellectual property, toxicology and clinical applications.

In particular for this special focus, it was important that the Guest Editors, and the issue as a whole, represented both academic and industry perspectives and most importantly their integration. The Guest Editors themselves will point out; the translation of this technology will require the fostering of the “cooperative interplay between basic research institutions, biotech and pharmaceutical companies”.

Is iPS cell technology the future of clinical medicine? iPS cells were first produced in 2007, when it was discovered that skin cells could be reprogrammed by the addition of just four genes. The discovery was received with huge interest both from researchers and the media, offering a potential alternative to costly and sometimes controversial embryonic stem cell research. Despite this enthusiasm, the fact that iPS cells were created via genetic engineering of the cell using viral vectors rendered them unsafe for any potential therapeutic use.

However, research in the field has progressed at breakneck speed. Several methods were quickly developed to deliver transcription factor genes without viral vectors and in April 2009 the first iPS cells were generated without genetic manipulation.

Debate still continues as to whether iPS cells are truly equivalent to ESC cells, with recent advances suggesting that cells can be reprogrammed directly from one cell type to another without an intermediate iPS cell step.

Dr Chris Mason, Editor of Regenerative Medicine , said, "It is universally agreed that iPS cells have the potential to transform healthcare. The big question is, ‘how?’. In this special issue, world leading iPS experts discuss the key scientific facts, translational perspectives and future areas of impact for this disruptive technology”.

With the field moving so fast and a great deal of excitement being generated, authoritative reviews are needed to identify the genuine scientific advances amongst the hype, and offer expert commentary as to which approaches are likely to constitute the future of this field.

Dr M William Lensch, Guest Editor and Senior Scientist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute commented; “If this new technology has any hope of improving medical practice, and there are a variety of ways this might happen as high-lighted in this issue of the journal, then the cooperative interplay between basic research institutions, biotech and pharmaceutical companies must be encouraged.”

Lensch went onto say, “what is clear is that we are living through a revolution in our understanding of cellular lineage specification, tissue genesis and the epigenetic regulation of our genome, and all because of the availability of iPS cells and reprogramming process.”

Bringing together international experts this special focus issue will aim to shed light on the real potential of iPS cells as an alternative to embryonic stem cells in research and clinical applications.