Pluripotency of cell & advantages of iPSC over embryonic stem cell

Pluripotency of cell & advantages of iPSC over embryonic stem cell

Question:- What is pluripotency of cell? Explain with advantages how iPSC is different from embryonic.


In cell biology, pluripotency refers to a stem cell that has the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers- endoderm (interior stomach lining, gastrointestinal tract, the lungs), mesoderm (muscle, bone, blood, urogenital), or ectoderm (epidermal tissues and nervous system).

Stem cells are undifferentiated biological cells that can differentiate into specialized cells and can also divide to produce more stem cells through mitosis.

Two broad types of stem cells: embryonic stem cells, which are isolated from the inner cell mass of blastocysts, and adult stem cells, which are found in various tissues.

Induced pluripotent stem cells: Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are adult cells that are genetically reprogrammed to an embryonic stem cell–like state by being forced to display genes and factors that are pertinent for maintaining the defining properties of embryonic stem cells.

All that is needed is a small sample of skin from the patient which will be used to generate skin fibroblasts, thus converting them to iPS cells.

Embryonic stem cell: Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of a blastocyst, an early-stage pre-implantation embryo.

Preference of iPSC over ESC:

- Research in Embryonic stem cell is full of ethical concerns, particularly regarding the ideas of human dignity, morality and justice toward humankind that arise from dealing with life in one of its earliest forms, the embryo.

- Religious organizations consider this as murdering a child and hence oppose stem cell research.

- This kind of research is banned in most countries and has become a controversial international issue. Additional ethical concerns surrounding such research include informed consent, improper inducement, health and safety of women donating eggs.

- There is a long list of ethical obstacles that one can face in case interested in pursuing the research.

- IPSC on the other hand are ethically uncomplicated alternatives to ESC. It avoids the most important concerns in feminist ethics surrounding the issue.

- Since no eggs are needed for iPSCs, there is no burden on women for supplying the necessary cells for the research.

- The egg donation process is often seen as the most distressing aspect of ESC research due to concerns for the women’s health during and after the invasive surgery.

- Huge controversies arise over appropriate compensation for health risk along with an ethical disagreement over what technically becomes purchase of parts of the human body.

- Use of iPSC as an alternative to ESC help eliminate both the issues that is of health risks to the donor and of appropriate compensation, as individuals will have to donate cells through a non-invasive procedure for research leading to the donor’s own therapeutic use.

Advantages of iPSC :

- Pluripotent stem cells provide a chance to acquire a renewable source of healthy cells and tissues in order to treat a wide range of diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

- Burn victims and those who suffer from diseases such as Parkinson's can potentially benefit from the use of pluripotent stem cells.

- They are useful because they give rise to the majority of cell types in the human body which include muscle, blood, heart and nerve cells.

- Another potential use for pluripotent stem cells involves the generation of cells and tissues for use in transplantation.

- Pluripotent stem cells can evolve into specialized cells that ultimately can replace diseased cells and tissues.

- IPS cells have already proven useful for drug development and modeling of diseases and scientists hope to use them in transplantation medicine. iPS cells give a lot of hope in curing diseases that have a single cell cause.

- Toxicology or drug research is another area where iPS cells can be of great use. Testing effects of drugs directly on patients can be extremely dangerous. However, iPS cells can be differentiated into the requisite cell type and have the drugs tested on them for reactions.

- For toxicity studies, iPSCs from normal and diseased cells are used to generate neurons, hepatocytes, cardiomyocytes etc. Toxicity and potential side-effects are often the most common causes to rule out most of the therapeutic molecules.

Positive uses of pluripotent stem cells are vast but new research and ethical challenges must be taken into account before the benefits of it can be availed.
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